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Ellicott City withstands Tropical Storm Isaias

Heavy rains bring no flash floods
Posted at 4:02 PM, Aug 04, 2020

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — The stage was set for potential flash flooding---heavy rain contributing to run off, run off testing the drainage along Main Street in Ellicott City and creating torrents downstream.

Two years ago, Chris McIntyre had flood waters rise to a level just below his second floor window and it took months for him to get over the experience.

“When I moved back, and I was in the same situation and it started raining,” recalled McIntyre. “I mean I had never really had a panic attack like that and I was just shaking… grabbed the dog out of the car, left and said, ‘I can’t come back’.”

Howard County oversaw the removal of debris from the channels beneath the city leading up to this storm, which at its peak had only downed a handful of trees causing modest power outages spread across the county, but no flooding in Ellicott City.

“We’re well prepared,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “We’ve been working hard and our hope is that this fast-moving storm will get past us in short order, but until then we’re going to stay vigilant.”

As will Chris McIntyre who credits the delicate balance of the storm’s duration and its volume of rain with sparing the city any flooding.

“If you get three to five inches down here that’s a lot of rain, but not in 10 hours. At six hours and five hours it is and a little less than that---it might stop raining. It’s always going to be the runoff.”

And it will always bring a measure of anxiety to the flood-weary city until the county can take real steps to change the drainage system beneath all of this history.

“I know they’re doing what they can when they can, but for someone like me, it’s been four years. It’s been two floods. It’s been many storms,” said McIntyre. “We have the alert system. We have the action plan now, which is all great, but we’re never going stop Mother Nature and we’re never going stop the runoff so the quicker we can get this done, the safer this place will be.”