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Business owners hopeful as Ellicott City clean up continues

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Posted at 12:54 PM, Aug 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-22 06:12:08-04

Saturday morning, Ellicott City's Main Street was flooded once again but this time with construction vehicles and volunteers working furiously to help business owners get ready to reopen.

"Everyday you find something new that you have to address, but it's good, it's good. You learn a lot and you can see a lot of history," Contractor with EPN Martin Eveler said. He's found old whiskey bottles in a small granite cave behind the main store, and wonders what it may have been used for.

His building had a layer of mud, he had to dig out. His building has two levels, a business on the bottom floor and a residence upstairs.

Next door at Maxine's Antiques and Collectibles, owner Charlene Townsend is devastated. "You cannot fathom what it is like," she said referring to her friend's store across the street where the second level collapsed.

Townsend's store was packed top to bottom with jewelry, home goods and antiques. Now the room looks gutted, ceiling boards are visible, the wall separating the stairs was ripped down to support beams.

Townsend hopes to reopen, but says the finances have to work out.

"It's probably going to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars," John Shoemaker said about the damage at his family owned store Shoemaker County.

Dozens of volunteers were working inside, a bobcat drove through every couple minutes hauling debris out of the store.

You could hear the pounding of hammers, and shovels scooping up boards and dropping them in huge plastic garbage bags.

In the middle of his store, is a pile of furniture. Shoemaker said most of the metal items can be salvaged, and with work, some of the wood pieces can be sold.

Shoemaker's family business started in 2001, and lives in a newer building, after a fire in the 1980's destroyed the same area of Ellicott City.

What caused Shoemaker so much trouble during the storm, is his door broke in and brought with is four inches of mud. Now the mud is gone and Shoemaker is thankful all of his merchandise upstairs was saved. He is set on reopening as soon as possible.

After Monday, all access will be shut down by the county, so safety assessments and other work can be done to deem the area safe for the public.

The plan is to reopen on September 16th, to pedestrian traffic only.

Each business owner expressed their gratitude to all of the volunteers who have been making a huge difference during the clean up process and said everyone has stayed positive throughout.

"The people are working like it's their own business, it's amazing," Shoemaker said.