Ellicott City business owner devastated by flooding after surviving 2016

- An Ellicott City business owner has lost everything again. 

Antique store Joan Eve was wrecked in July 2016 as flooding in the historic town destroyed numerous business, flooded cars, and left two people dead. 

And now, catastrophe has struck for the second time in two years, as flash floods quickly rose and tore apart Main Street Sunday night.

But unlike last time, shop owner Joan Eve Shea-Cohen was inside her store as the rain barreled down.

“I’ve had a lot of things in my life that have happened, but this was the scariest,” she said.

Shea-Cohen was in the shop with her friend, Gary, when water started pouring in from the front and back. 

“The floor started to buckle,” she said. “And the showcase came down, this huge 6-foot-wide, 6-foot-tall showcase came down. All the furniture was moving, the floor had buckled and the water is getting higher and higher. I said, ‘Gary, I don’t want to drown in here.’”

She says the door was stuck so they broke a window to escape into the flooded street.

“We were basically swim walking,” Shea-Cohen said.

Cell phone video shows her clinging to Gary as they wade near the Tiber River.

“I thought, ‘This is it. We’re going to end up drowning in this river. And Gary said, ‘No, no no. We’re going to be OK. We’re going make it.’”

They took refuge in someone’s apartment, surviving with just a few scrapes.

A day later, Shea-Cohen says she’s grateful for her life, but devastated to lose her business yet again.

What’s worse, the weekend before she had moved everything out in fear of the storms. 

She had just gotten her inventory back inside for Memorial Day weekend.

When FOX 5 spoke to Shea-Cohen after the flood in 2016, she was already thinking about re-opening her shop.

Like so many Ellicott City business owners she did re-open, and was excited for the future of the city she loves.

Now, after 22 years in business, she says she can’t fathom going through this again.

“I don’t know what to say is going to happen to Ellicott City,” she said. “I don’t. It’s not going to be me there though. I don’t think so. I can’t go through this again.”

Business owners and residents will have escorted access to their properties Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to the Howard County government. 

They say credentialing to access Main Street will take place at the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive.

People will have 10 minutes to access their properties and can only take what they can carry.

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