Ellicott City business owner wonders if rebuilding is the right move after devastating flood

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - Another day of cleanup.  Another day of broken hearts in Ellicott City as business owners wonder whether or not to rebuild in a city that was trying to do just that after 2016’s devastating flooding. 

Mark Hemmis owns the Phoenix Emporium on Mainstreet. It was destroyed in 2016. Sunday it was destroyed again.  Leaders are working around the clock to help, but the pain remains.

"It's pretty catastrophic damage," said Hemmis.  

"The windows blew out and the water trapped in the building whirlpooled around for awhile," he continued.

Broken chairs remain where the decades' old bar used to host its regulars.

"It tore up everything.  The bar, the wood partition, all the tables, and chairs.  Most of it is all gone," said Hemmis.

County leaders opened shelters and other sites to help residents. About 400 home and business owners were taken to Main Street Tuesday to gather valuables and assess the damage. Hemmis was one of them and remembers the day he reopened.

"We got open January 30, 2017.  Six months to the day after the flood. So we’ve open about a year and quarter now."

Hemmis worries about his employees who are without a job.  While County Executive Alan Kittleman worries about getting people the resources they need.  About 200 hundred cars have been removed from the site.  Kittleman said he’s working with state and local leaders to continue flood mitigation plans noting that this flood is worse than the July 2016 disaster.  He also noted that he’s been working on a flood plan since he was elected. Now, it’s decision time for everyone.

"I'm in a better financial situation than a lot of people I believe but it’s going to tap every resource we have should we decide to rebuild," said Hemmis.

Wednesday, the county is hosting an information session Howard High School starting at 6 p.m. There will be 19 state and local agencies to help those directly affected by the flooding. 

Click here for important information on flood recovery efforts in Howard County.

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