Over a month since flooding tore through Ellicott City, the town is on the rise. Nearly 2 dozen businesses have opened back up, with several more planning to open soon.
"It feels really good to be back open," Linwood Boutique employee Ashley Rowell said. "It feels bittersweet because all of the other stores haven't been able to open."
Many on lower Main Street are still busy with repairs.
Howard County Council voted Monday to extend Ellicott City's State of Emergency through July 30 and keep a portion of Main Street closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic, county officials said.
The extension was requested by County Executive Allan H. Kittelman after business and property owners expressed concerns during a Flood Recovery Town Hall on June 28. The Main Street closure runs from Maryland Avenue to Old Columbia Pike.
“I appreciate the input we heard from those who attended the Town Hall,” said Kittleman. “Those are the folks who live and work along Main Street, and we want to give them the additional time they requested while trying to accommodate those businesses that have already re-opened or will be doing so shortly.”
Some businesses who have been able to reopen say they support those who are still rebuilding but want Main Street open as soon as possible. With less traffic, it's hurting some businesses bottom lines.
"It's definitely keeping some people away because they still have some road block signs up so people don't know that they can just come down," Rowell said.
Businesses within the restricted area can still bring contractors to their properties, and anyone who needs special vehicle access should call 410-313-2900. Daily access remains from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Residents who lived in Main Street's closed section can move back to their houses if the residence has been deemed habitable by the county, all utilities are hooked up, and they signed a re-occupancy agreement with the County.
Ellicott Mills Drive is expected to remain closed between Fels Lane and Main Street through late fall while repair work is done on the roadway and storm culvert that was washed away.
Kittleman says they are working diligently and taking inspiration form a town back on the rise.
"I can’t imagine what they are going through. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to have two major floods and two terrible tragedies happen so close together, but they are just teaching all of us what it means to be resilient," Kittleman said.
Business owners and residents still seeking volunteer assistance with clean up and salvage should complete the required forms online at the county's website.
There is also an expedited permit process to assist those trying to rebuild, including fee waivers for flood damage repair, which will remain in effect until Jan. 31, 2019.
President Donald Trump also approved a disaster declaration adn ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts from the Memorial Day Weekend flooding. This means that some of Howard County's $20 million in infrastructure costs will be reimbursed, as well as facility repairs in Baltimore County.