Ellicott City business owner questions Howard County's actions leading up to flooding

- Kara Brook Brown owns two buildings on Main Street in historic Ellicott City that were heavily damaged after the flood in 2016. She said she chose not to rebuild because an engineering firm she hired warned her that the same thing could happen the next time there was a storm of a similar magnitude. Now, Brown is questioning why Howard County officials did not seem to be prepared for that same outcome before this past weekend.

Howard County and state officials have continued to refer to both setups leading to the 2016 flooding and the one that took place on Sunday as a once-in-a-1,000-year event.

Brown also said she does not think Howard County leaders moved fast enough to follow the advice of their own study commissioned after the 2016 flood.

According to that report, "construction of stormwater storage facilities throughout the watershed can make an appreciable difference in the severity of flooding."

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said stormwater drainage ponds can't be built overnight and require time engineering, design, funding and construction. Kittleman said the funds were secured for two retention ponds and construction should begin soon. In the meantime, he said the county has done work between the 2016 flooding and now.

"Streams have been cleaned out, stream channels have been cleaned out. The riverbed, the stream walls have been reinforced," Kittleman said.

Brown also wants to know more about the role of development in the town's flood risk. FOX 5 tried asking Kittleman about development, but he said it was not the right time to talk about the topic.

"We will have the answers when the time is appropriate," he said. "Right now, we are talking about the response."

Business owners and neighbors have argued the county has allowed too much new development upstream from historic Ellicott City, which has exacerbated the flood risk.

Brown sees the county's action as too slow.

"It needed to be more of a foot race," Brown said. "It needed to be more of a 10K. Right now, I think everybody is treating it like a 50-mile run."

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