The following was posted on Facebook by Howard County Council Member Liz Walsh:
Old Ellicott City’s West End flooded last night. Again. So many times in so little time. So did Sylvan Lane. And New Cut.
Neighbors checked in with one another. Compared the ferocity and pitch of rushing water, behind, around, beneath their homes. In the dark. Where loved ones and old friends and pets and everything is. Still is. Still. Moved cars from the street. Stared at camera feeds and telltale rocks and other markers in the channel beds. Anguished about what to do, when to do it. Again.
I do not want to hear the retelling of last night any different than it actually was. I will not.
The Hudson Branch did eventually jump its banks. Where it’s supposed to cross under the road, towards the natural floodplain that is the front of West End Service. And further down into town where more families still put their children to bed, every night. But Frederick Road already was carrying water, on the pavement, down the street, long before then, from Rogers.
It was not a blocked storm grate that flooded the old National Road. Again. Last night.
And although emergency responders closed that National Road to through traffic for some period of time last night, none of the newly installed County sirens sounded to let the people on the other side of the sidewalks, inside their homes, know as much.
I do not want to hear that this County’s insistence on allowing the clearing and scraping of the last acres of forest above this town won’t make all this worse, and more frequent. It already has. I do not want to hear that hauling out some subset of debris at some finite number of access sites along five different waterways means the channels are cleared. They aren’t. They haven’t been. And I do not want to hear that last night wasn’t scary and awful and unforgivable. Again. It was.
This is what we need to hear, right now, plain and loud and clear: what is the plan. What is the actual plan for emergency preparedness and for execution. Who decides what to do, when, and based on what. And how do we know that’s good enough. How do we know we’re safe and sound.
Here is the post from Facebook:
The questions asked above are real when in comes to Old Ellicott City.
The County Executive and staff part of Howard County Government possibly should rethink when the system should be active for Old Ellicott City. The statement of “Historic Ellicott City has an emergency alert system that is meant to alert the public only when flash flooding is imminent. The tones will be triggered anytime a flash flood warning is issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) or if our county public safety personnel deem them necessary” may not cut it at this point and a serious reevaluation of when the system is activated may be necessary.
This is the second time (that I can think of) when folks would have expected the notification from the siren system and it did not activate.
- Why the siren system for Ellicott City was not activated during the Flash Flood Warnings in Howard County on July 8th
- Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has released the following statement on the storm that impacted Howard County on October 31
When there is enough water to close roads in that area…when there is enough water that cover the streets…maybe then someone makes the call to let the community know by using the new siren system we invested money in for just that purpose.
Look…I do not want it overused to the point where people ignore it…but based on everything I have heard it sounds like the events on October 31st would have warranted the notification.
I look forward to hearing more from Howard County Government in the future on this topic. I also hope Council Member Liz Walsh continues to push this issue…keeping residents safe and informed is critical.
(note – image above is a screenshot from the public images shared on Facebook by Council Member Liz Walsh)