Ellicott City flooding, one year later

One year ago this weekend, three people died, and part of the city was wiped out by a historical flash flood.

ELLICOTT CITY, MD. (WUSA9) - One year later, we are looking back at the fatal flooding that happened in Ellicott City. 

Sunday marks one year since two people lost their lives in the Ellicott City flooding.  

RELATED: Ellicott City residents see signs of hope after major flooding

The victims -- a man and woman-- were found dead on the Baltimore County side of the Patapsco River after flood waters ripped through the heart of the city almost one year ago. 

Ellicott City is an historic mill town where many structures are on foundations of large stones that have withstood repeated catastrophic floods for more than a century. 

However last year's flooding ravaged half of the town's businesses and homes. Most of Main Street specifically, was hit hard when the flood passed through the town. The street had to be rebuilt. 

The rain pounded the evening of July 30, 2016 and a surging tide down Main Street came quicker than most people could react.

Robin Holliday's first instinct was to try to lean against the door of her HorseSpirit Gallery to keep the water back.

It was a mistake. The door frame began to give way and Holliday fled for a set of stairs as filthy floodwater rushed in chest deep. She saved herself, but not by much.

Outside, cars and people were being swept away. Three people died. and much of the historic town was destroyed in a matter of a few seconds. Damage was counted in the 10's of millions.

The rebuilding is still not complete.

On Friday, as rain fell and flood warnings went up on the eve of a weekend celebration to commemorate the flood's one year anniversary, Holliday explained why she decided to rebuild and stay after the traumatic moments that nearly killed her.

"I did it for the sense of community," Holliday said, clearly grappling with emotion. "I've never had anything like this in my life. I got so close to all these people down here during this flood and I'm not letting that go."
The emotional connection is strong enough to outweigh the continuing risk.

Holliday might have been forgiven for closing up early Friday as rain fell, and flood alerts were issued. Instead, she stayed in the gallery to prepare for the weekend commemoration.

Holliday expects a weekend of sharply mixed emotions. There will be a rededication of the town clock to remember flood victims. But later there will be celebrations to rejoice over the rebuilding and reopening of so many businesses in the city.  

Finally, Holliday said the most important moments for her will be to give thanks to the friends, volunteers, business colleagues and community members who supported her and others as they rebuilt businesses and home.

"I wouldn't be here without them," Holliday said.

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman recently announced another $15 million in planned flood control and recovery projects

RELATED: Two dead in Ellicott City flooding

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