ELLICOTT CITY, Md. -- Two weeks have passed and Ellicott City continues to clean up from the devastating flood. After two floods in two years, businesses and homeowners will decide whether to return, or not.
University of Maryland expert Prof. Marccus Hendricks said those decisions will come down to planning.
The first thing you need to know about Ellicott City is the founders built it—where they did—because they needed the nearby rivers for a grain mill.
“It was the perfect site to harness all the water flowing downstream to support and power the mill,” Hedricks said.
Hendricks studies urban planning and water disasters at the University of Maryland. Since the end of May he has kept a close eye on Ellicott City.
“Something that was promising historically is now a peril,” he said.
Hendricks pointed to two problems with Ellicott City’s future. First, he said climate change has increased powerful rain events. Second, more than 50 years of business and residential development has removed surfaces that used to soak up water.
“These hard surfaces (are) contributing to additional water and faster water,” Hendricks said.
What can be done?
Hendricks said he city will need a major overhaul of its infrastructure: storm water systems, levees and drainage. He added the city also needs to not develop areas where water naturally flows.
However, this happened two years ago, so why wasn’t this solved then?
“To actually put legs on those goals and solution and move them forward—that takes longer than two years,” he explained.