Wednesday night, dozens of Ellicott City residents and business owners met the developers tasked with outsmarting mother nature. Howard County is in the process of planning improvements to the Tiber-Hudson watershed to prevent damaging floods.
Ten months ago, two people were killed and several buildings were damaged on Main Street after over six inches of rain fell in just two hours.
Randy Marriner had just bought the building that would become home to the Manor Hill Tavern.
"We bought the building on July 1st," he says. "Thirty days later, there was the rain storm."
Mahan Rykiel Associates is coming up with the strategy to keep water off of Main Street and away from buildings. Project Manager Tom McGilloway told the crowd Wednesday that it will take a year to finish the Master Plan. It will be partially based on a Hydrology and Hydraulic study released at the meeting, which found that enough water fell in last year's storm to fill 800 parking lots.
"There's nothing you can do to help a six inches of rain in two hours storm," says County Executive Allan Kittleman. "but we can help the more commonplace storms that we have."
The potential improvements will target storms on track to happen every ten, 25 and even 100 years.
Recommendations in the new study include bigger storm ponds, extra culverts and even giant basements to keep water underground. Some residents expressed concern that there isn't enough room for much more construction.
"Natural impoundments, as they say, are difficult, because there's so much development already in the watershed," said former County Councilman Paul Farragut.
County officials say they are committed to doing what's necessary to give businesses and homeowners peace of mind.
"They have put a lot of investment into their buildings," says Kittleman. "And they want to make sure that we're not simply going to forget them, and we're not."
The project developer is planning several events and meetings throughout the year so that Ellicott City residents can give input on the Master Plan. The next meeting will take place on the week of July 10.