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Allan H.

Kittleman, County Executive

Ryan A. Miller, Director, Office of Emergency Management

Report to County Council

On Saturday evening, July 30, 2016, six inches of rain fell on Ellicott City in less than two hours,
roughly the equivalent of a months worth of rainfall. The storm caused the Patapsco River to rise 13
feet in 100 minutes. At one point, it rose 2 feet in 5 minutes.
The torrential rainfall, combined with the rise of the Patapsco River, caused significant flash
flooding for Historic Downtown Main Street. Tragically, two people died, and if not for the heroic acts of
citizens and first responders, we may have suffered additional loss of life. Ninety businesses sustained
significant damage from the storm and 107 residences received damage, affecting more than 190
residents. In total 249 vehicles had to be removed from the affected area and an additional 22 vehicles
had to be extracted from the Patapsco River. Initial estimates for public infrastructure damages and
repair in the Ellicott City area are over $22.4 million to include major damage to a sanitary sewer
interceptor in the early days of recovery, resulting in a 5 million gallon per day leak until repaired.
That same evening, County Executive Allan H. Kittleman signed the executive order declaring a
local state of emergency. Shortly thereafter, on July 31, 2016 Governor Larry Hogan visited Ellicott City
and signed an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency for Howard County. On August 5, the
County Council met to extend the local declaration of emergency until September 7. The extension
allowed the county to continue to receive support of state and local partners and permitted the county
to take the actions needed to help affected residents and the community recover from this tragedy.
In the days following the storm, county public works crews began stabilizing critical
infrastructure such as water mains and stormwater systems as well as coordinating critical missions to

retrieve essential personal and business property. For several days, in-depth assessments of the areas
infrastructure were conducted by DPW and DILP by looking below ground and at the complex buildings
with various structural challenges.
For the next two weekends, under some of the hottest temperatures this summer, residents,
businesses and property owners were given credentialed access to clean out their properties and save
as much property as possible. At the same time, an outpouring of volunteer support came in with offers
to help those impacted by the disaster. At the same time, the focus on restoring public infrastructure
continued, especially to stabilize those elements most damaged. The most critical projects included
repairing retaining walls on Hamilton Street and on Main Street near the B&O Museum. Interlaced
throughout all this activity has been the steady stream of approved and targeted micro-missions
aimed at getting residents and businesses access to their property. These missions, led by Constituent
Services and the county Economic Development Authority, continued daily. A final five-day push
focused on getting final remediation work done by residents and businesses before the county shifted
into a three-week push by DPW to complete work on critical infrastructure.

Damage Assessments and Cost Estimates

Public Works
The declaration of local emergency gave the county executive the power to control access into
the affected area along Main Street. Continuing to block off this area from pedestrian and vehicle traffic
allowed DPW to make needed repairs, including repairing storm drain inlets, filling sink holes, paving
roads, reestablishing utility connections and rebuilding sidewalks. Additionally, this extra time has
allowed an assessment of the safety of the buildings on Main Street and has allowed for necessary
shoring of damaged buildings. Twelve buildings remain on the unsafe to access list, with DILP working
with property owners to ensure that these buildings are shored up.
So far, DPW crews have:

Repaired 17 water house connections/meter pits that were destroyed;

Analyzed for damage more than 40 sanitary sewer connections from the main to the structure
via TV camera inspection;
Installed 3,000 feet of security fencing with 10 vehicles gates and 3 pedestrian gates;
Boarded up more than 50 residences and business for security;
Restored power and HVAC to the B&O Museum;
Erected the Ellicott City Clock near B&O Museum;
Repaired a major sewer line break;
Worked with BGE on major infrastructure upgrade;
Working with United States Army Corps of Engineers on stream channel repairs;
Cleared more than 2,000 tons of debris

Waterway Projects
Howard County has worked hard to ensure that waterways, culverts, and storm drains are
cleared of debris. All vehicles have been removed from the Patapsco River. In total, 19 vehicles were
removed by Howard County and 3 vehicles were removed by the Department of Natural Resources.
Additionally, Howard County Public Works partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear
hazardous debris from the Tiber River. Under this assistance program, the Corps provided debris
removal assistance, at no cost to the county, to mitigate areas at imminent risk of future flooding.
Waterway clearing projects are underway at two separate sites along the Tiber:
Clearing the channel behind the Howard County Tourism building where roadway
collapse has obstructed the waterway.
Clearing sediment and debris at the confluence of the Tiber and the Patapsco River.

Disaster Assistance Center

A Disaster Assistance Center, which serves as a one-stop-shop for affected residents, businesses,
and property owners to seek assistance and resources from state and local agencies, has been open
daily since August 2. To date, the DAC has serviced over 620 encounters, many of which are repeat visits
from Ellicott City residents and business owners. The following table shows the breakdown of DAC
encounters by encounter type:
Type of Encounter

Number of Encounters by Type

Initial Visit Individuals


Initial Visit Businesses


Return Visit Individuals


Return Visit Businesses






Total Encounters


The number of individuals seen at the DAC has steadily decreased over time, with the exception
of credentialing, and the team has begun to plan for a transition to a virtual DAC. Focus will shift to an
increased concentration on case management instead of resource identification, which is expected to
become a greater need as the time since the flood increases. A job fair with more than 65 business
representatives was held August 8 for individuals who lost jobs because of the flooding. Approximately
60 displaced workers attended the job fair and 14 job seekers were hired on the spot!

Housing Assistance
Through August 19, there were 54 inquiries for temporary housing and 19 households were
moved in to the following locations: Columbia Landing (15), Verona (3) and Orchard Meadows (1). These
units are being provided to the residents at no cost for the first 30 days. Units are still available and the
county continues to work with displaced residents to ensure that all housing needs are met. Paperwork
has been submitted for displaced residents to receive Maryland Disaster Housing Assistance Program
emergency rental assistance through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community
Development. This program would provide housing vouchers for 90 days. The county is currently waiting
for an update from the State regarding the status of pending applications.

Businesses and Citizen Missions

A focal point in the initial cleanup and recovery has been coordinating micro-missions to allow
residents, businesses, and property owners to access their property. A call center was established and
open every day from 8 am 8 pm since the storm. This center has provided affected individuals with a
single point of contact to have questions answered and their concerns addressed. Thus far, more than
230 business missions and more than 150 residence missions have been completed, not including the
recent five days of public access. Efforts to balance the needs of residents, merchants and property
owners occurs daily while ensuring life safety remains the first priority and that necessary repairs are
conducted in an expedited manner.
During the five days of access provided to businesses and residents beginning Aug. 18, vehicle
access to Main Street was allowed in order to conduct cleaning operations and to move out property if
desired. On August 18, more than 70 trips were taken, on August 19, 74 vehicles entered to assist with
cleaning up/clearing out 52 properties and on August 20 more than 94 vehicles traveled down Main

Street to help with the cleaning out of 61 properties. During the first four days of access, Howard County
Government issued 706 credentials, conducted 482 UTV transport rides for residents and businesses,
and conducted 22 van rides. During this time, a safety plan was implemented to include a safety officer
surveillance, onsite medical providers and cooling tents to ensure safety for all individuals working on
recovery efforts.
Over the weekend of August 13 and 14, Howard County was under an Excessive Heat Warning
from the National Weather Service, with the heat index reaching 110 degrees. Specific cases were
deemed unsafe by our safety officers, prompting them to remove two generators from doorways and
the stop one crew from using a gas-powered saw inside a closed area. This past Sunday, Aug. 21, as
severe weather threatened, the EOC continually monitored weather and consulted with the National
Weather Service to ensure safe operations while maximizing the time available for work.

Volunteer Management
The interest from the community to volunteer to help Ellicott City has been extremely high. So
far, more than 3,000 individuals have requested information on how to volunteer and over 250
volunteers have assisted with damage clean up. The Volunteer Center Serving Howard County, a
program of the Columbia Association and a local clearinghouse for volunteerism, has become the new
entry point for volunteers interested in helping. VolunteerHoward.org, an online service, will make it
easier for individuals and groups of volunteers to be organized for recovery missions as they arise.
In addition to the spontaneous community volunteers, we have had a strong presence of
volunteer organizations assisting us. Representatives from several Volunteer Organizations Active in
Disasters crews were actually still on the ground in Howard County conducting recovery missions from
the June tornado when the flood occurred. They assisted in cleaning out properties. Crews from

AmeriCorps were on the ground for three weeks through Aug. 21, helping the county with the Ellicott
City recovery and cleanup. These young men and women did everything from cleaning up debris on the
streets to handling much of the staging and logistics for our incident management team.

Health Department
The Howard County Health Department has conducted tests of water quality along the Tiber River
and the Hudson branch. Several of the sample locations revealed very significant levels of e. coli
contamination and the county has worked to ensure that care is taken with projects that involve contact
with those waters. The Health Departments Food Protection Program inspectors have also been
inspecting businesses in the affected area, and clearing them for reopening. To date, five businesses
(Wine Bin, Matcha Time, Little French Market, Judges Bench, and River House Pizza) have been cleared
by the health department as able to reopen.

Howard County Public School System

County government has been in contact with the Howard County Public School System to assist
them in creating alternate bus routes, and ensure that impacted students receive additional assistance if
The school system will be creating alternate bus stops at Main St/Ellicott Mills Drive, and at
College Ave/New Cut Road. HCPSS has been in contact with each impacted school (Mt. Hebron HS,
Ellicott Mills MS and Veterans ES) to share these locations and reach out to the families they have
identified in the impact area. HCPSS reports that there are 3 Mt. Hebron HS, 6 Veterans ES and 5
Worthington ES families within the region that will need to access the new stops. Two families that
were living on Main Street were displaced and the schools have been in touch with the
parents. Additionally, staff from the HCPSS office is prepared to offer their assistance for any displaced


Public Information Messaging

Our Joint Information Center has worked hard at reaching out to residents using a variety of
outreach methods; including social media, a targeted newsletter, and an in-person information session.
In the first week following the storm, the Facebook posts on the Howard County Government and
County Executive pages reached more than 2 million people. The JIC established a special website,
www.ECfloodrecovery.org, as a one-stop shop resource page for information. Both the County
Executives social media channels and Howard County Government social media channels were used to
reach the public. Additionally, the Howard County Government YouTube channel was used to share
video messages. The messages have included simple text, graphics, photos, videos and live streams of
significant events. Typically, in events such as this, the reach of social media posts decreases as the
mainstream media shares the information. This was not the case here. People have continued to come
directly to county social media as their source for information related to the flood response and
recovery. In addition to our social media outreach, nightly press releases, press conferences, a 900+
person email list and print media was used to ensure that the county reach all affected individuals.

Mutual Aid
Finally, the declaration of emergency has allowed us access to mutual aid resources from
neighboring jurisdictions, the State, and from jurisdictions outside of Maryland. We received the
following resources from jurisdictions within Maryland:


Anne Arundel

2 Vactor Trucks

Emergency Management Planners

Communication Site on Wheels truck
(cache of radios and additional repeater)
Fire personnel working on scene from the
Baltimore County side of the line, working
with Howard County DFRS
Urban Search and Rescue Team
Incident Management Team for on-site
Emergency Management Planners

Baltimore County

Baltimore City
Montgomery, Carroll, Annapolis, Washington,
Garrett, Caroline, Prince Georges, and Ocean City
ANG (Air National Guard)


Also, the county engaged an Incident Management Team with members from Pennsylvania,
Colorado, and Virginia. This team ran operations on the scene for the first two weeks of response. These
assets enabled the county to effectively manage the incident, and were only possible because of the
local declaration of emergency.

State Agency Assistance

Howard County requested that the State Department of Assessments and Taxation begin doing
an emergency assessment of properties in the affected area in an effort to hopefully decrease the tax
burden of the property owners in the near term. The county has requested funding for faade
improvement through the Community Legacy Program (through Maryland Department of Housing a
Community Development). DHCD will work on increasing funding based on damage assessments. Finally,
the county has worked with DHCD to get Ellicott Citys application deadline for the Strategic Demolition
Fund extended to enable assistance if needed for this program. The Strategic Demolition Fund is used by
local governments and nonprofit community development organizations for a range of predevelopment
activities, including removal of unsafe structures, demolition of obsolete structures, site acquisition and


land assembly, infrastructure improvements, site development and architectural and engineering

Small Business Administration Declaration

In the three weeks since the disaster, the county applied for, and received, a Small Business
Administration Disaster Declaration. This declaration allows Howard County businesses and residents
affected by the heavy rains and flooding to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small
Business Administration. A Disaster Loan Outreach Center to assist residents and businesses in applying
for these loans has been set up, and is fully functional at the Ellicott City 50+ Center. Messaging on the
DLOC has been pushed out and is ongoing. The Small Business Administration has also provided a team
from SCORE, who provide counseling to business owners.
In addition to the SBA loans, the county has worked with its state partners to make the
Maryland Business Recovery Loan Program an option for businesses impacted by the flood. The
Maryland Business Recovery Loan Program is an emergency loan program which will provide up to to
$50,000 (amount based on damage assessment) at an interest rate of zero percent (0%). The funds can
be used for repairs, inventory replacement, and working capital.

Presidential Declaration Request

On August 12, Governor Hogan officially submitted the request for a Presidential Disaster
Declaration. Finance has been working to compile a list of damages and costs and has been meeting
regularly with FEMA to get them this data. The county has a FEMA team on-site providing guidance, and
has been working with the county to identify recovery resources for several weeks now. If the
Presidential Declaration is granted, it will open up Public Assistance funding, as well as allow the county


to apply for additional federal aid programs. County teams continue to work at providing FEMA with
additional data as requested to assist them in making their determination on the declaration.

Natural Resources Conservation Service Grant Program

The county has submitted a request for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program through
the Natural Resources Conservation Service. An assessment team has come out and assessed county
streams and waterways. The county is currently waiting to hear back on whether it will be eligible for
the program. The EWP Program is a recovery effort program aimed at relieving imminent hazards to life
and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms, and other natural occurrences. Public and private
landowners are eligible for assistance. NRCS may pay up to 75 percent of the construction cost of
emergency measures. The remaining 25 percent must come from local sources and can be in the form of
cash or in-kind services.

Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief Program

During this process, the county has experienced a few roadblocks. The county was informed by
the State Highway Administration that Main Street in Ellicott City is currently classified in the Federal
Highway Administrations system as a federal aid eligible road. As long as Main Street is designated as
such, Howard County will face several obstacles in recovering from this disaster. First, this means that
the road will fall under the Federal Highway Administrations (FHWA) Emergency Relief Program for
repair, instead of falling under FEMAs Public Assistance Program. If the costs associated with the
stabilization and repair of Main Street are not eligible for inclusion in the FEMA Public Assistance (PA)
Declaration due to the federal status of the road, it will potentially mean that Howard County does not
meet the PA threshold, and would be denied a FEMA Presidential Declaration. Without the PA
Presidential Declaration, Howard County would be solely financially responsible for all other public


infrastructure costs (utilities, etc.), as well as all of the response costs for the incident. Second, as part
of the FHWAs program, the county will be required to follow the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA) process. This would significantly hamper recovery efforts due to federal requirements, and
lengthy time delays. A request for assistance was made to Congressman Cummings and Senators Cardin
and Mikulski requesting that either the road be removed from the federal aid system, or that portions of
the roadway (i.e. the sidewalks or utilities) be allowable costs under the FEMA program instead.
Additionally, upon the county executives request, MDOT Secretary Rahn sent a letter to the
county executive on delineating Main St. Ellicott City curb to curb. This action will allow for some of the
costs related to road stabilization and recovery to become eligible under the FEMA PA program. The
county will continue to work on resolving this issue and has also begun the paperwork for the FHWA
Emergency Relief Program in case it is needed.

Shrinking the No-Access Area

As the county makes great strides with recovery operations by prioritizing the immediate needs
of the community while ensuring safety precautions and critical repairs are conducted, the restricted
area has been tailored to accommodate as many residents and businesses as possible.
Work continues to reduce the footprint of the restricted area and reduce any disruption to the
community. West Main Street reopened after installing requested traffic calming devices for safety to
authorized vehicle traffic and side streets such as Court Avenue and Maryland Avenue have been
utilized to assist residents and merchants with recovery and restoration. A process has been established
to allow residents displaced by the flood an opportunity to return to their homes in the near future. This
process establishes criteria (including inspections, and restoration of utilities) before residents can move
back in.


The Countys Recovery Strategy has been underway since the beginning of the response phase.
Similar to the Emergency Operations Plan, a recovery framework has been implemented to establish the
roles and responsibilities of county government, with an emphasis on whole community involvement.
Recovery is much more than just rebuilding, rather it is a social process encompassing decision making
on reconstruction and restoration activities that provides an opportunity for a community reeling from a
disaster to heal during long term recovery efforts.
Based on extensive research from similar experiences across the nation, as well as speaking
directly to national experts, the county knows that this is a community model essential to the recovery
process. That is why, in addition to the implementation of the Countys Recovery framework, it was
announced on Friday, August 12 that senator, and former County Executive James Robey will serve as
the Special Advisor to Community Recovery by leading the Community Advisory Group. His first task is
to establish a team comprised of representatives from local organizations, businesses, residents and the
faith-based community that will inform the County on the communitys recovery priorities based on the
County Executives six principals: healing, stability, economy, rebuilding, preservation, and the
The Community Advisory Group will be essential in holding a dialogue with the community to
allow individuals to heal from this tragedy, while also providing an opportunity to hear directly from
members of the community about their thoughts on moving ahead. Jim is uniquely qualified to lead this
process because, as a lifelong Howard County resident, he is familiar with the people who live and work
here and because he has experience and contacts to coordinate the county's state and federal
assistance needs. Most importantly, Jim cares so deeply about our community. He has the heart and
understanding of what this community means to us. We're so fortunate that he has accepted this role.


In addition to the Community Advisory Group, the county executive has announced, through
Executive Order, the establishment of the Ellicott City Recovery Fund Committee to review the
distribution of monetary donations for individuals impacted by the disaster and to appropriate funding
to non-profits providing critical services to the community. So far, more than $500,000 in monetary
donations has been raised since the flood. It is critical to facilitate the connection of community needs
with resources, and this fund committee provides an opportunity to do just that. We are grateful for
County Council Vice-Chairman Jon Weinstein for agreeing to host this committee.

Prior to this disaster, as well as since the onset, we have been researching and
communicating with national subject matter experts and individuals that have gone through
recent experiences to capture best practices for recovery efforts. In addition, we have compiled
all of the resources, guidance, and case studies sent to us from MEMA and FEMA into a
While both the community and the county have a long road ahead to recover from this disaster,
by having quickly established community involved committees and an organized framework, the County
has laid the foundation for a successful long-term recovery effort.