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Six years after devastating Ellicott City flood, residents remain vigilant; major flood prevention projects advance

Six years later Ellicott City residents remember devastating flood, new flood prevention efforts und
Six years later Ellicott City residents remember devastating flood, new flood prevention efforts und 02:50

BALTIMORE -- It has been six years since the 2018 Ellicott City flood that destroyed several businesses along historic Main Street and killed a National Guardsman.

"I was just like, how is this possible?:" Judge's Bench Co-owner Michael Johnson said. "How could this happen twice in 22 months?"

Catastrophic flooding pummeled Old Ellicott City on May 27, 2018, less than two years after another torrential rainfall flooded the same area on July 30, 2016 -- two 1-in-1,000 year floods back-to-back.

National Guardsman Eddison Hermond was killed during the 2018 flood while trying to rescue someone.

"I saw some people some people get swept away," Brittany O'Connell of Catonsville said.

Brittany O'Connell is one of the many people who had to escape the floodwaters.

During the 2016 flood, she was working at a restaurant on lower Main Street.

"Looking down from the second floor, you could see water rising and finally all of the glass busted and the door busted open and then we realized everybody needed to evacuate," O'Connell said.

One of the owners of Judge's Bench pub tells WJZ his business didn't get damaged in either flood, but he did have to shut down for three weeks each time.

"It's kind of whiny to even be bringing it up compared to everybody else down the hill, they lost their business too," Johnson said.

A lot has been done to prevent flooding in Ellicott City.

County executive Calvin Ball, who took office shortly after the 2018 flood, quickly launched the "Safe and Sound" plan made up of seven projects.

Two drainage ponds have already been built.

The city's largest ever public works development is up next: a mile long tunnel capable of moving 26,000 gallons of water per second underground from the west end of Ellicott City to the Patapsco River.

Community members are hopeful these projects will keep water from invading the town, but also plan to stay alert.

"You can go 50 years and never have another storm like that... We could have one tomorrow," Johnson said.

The County Executive's office tells me ground will break on the tunnel on June 24th. It is expected to be completed in late 2027.

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