Ellicott City seeks answers after 2nd deadly flood strikes in less than 2 years

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The cleanup in Ellicott City continued Wednesday as flags around Maryland flew at half-staff in honor of 39-year-old Eddison Hermond, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard, whose body was found after being swept away in the flood waters that devastated the historic mill town on Sunday.

As residents resumed the difficult task of rebuilding their lives concerns of how a deadly flash flood, that was dubbed a 1-in-1,000 year event when it struck in 2016, could happen again in less than two years.

"One of problems I think we have with a quote-unquote "thousand-year storm" is this idea that it could only happen once every thousand years, said Sean Sublette, a meteorologist with Climate Central, told FOX 5. "And that's not true at all. It's just a statistic or a percentage. It's a .01 chance of happening in any one year."

"We have to put that term aside for a minute," continued Sublette. "The fact that Ellicott City lives at the base, or was settled at the base, of four different streams that all enter the Patapsco River at once puts it in a very susceptible place for flooding."

Flooding is hardly new for historic Ellicott City where a devastating flood in 1868 killed at least 43 people and another deluged the town in 1972. The flooding in 2016 left two people dead.

RELATED: How You Can Help The Ellicott City Flooding Victims

Some locals say the town's vulnerabilities have increased as housing developments were built on the land above. "The runoff is key here with the development that happened in Ellicott City coming down the hills through the streams," Sublette said. "You have fewer services that are permeable to water."

"You've got the asphalt, you've got the concrete as opposed to 50 to 70 years ago, a lot of that water can percolate down into the soil," he said. "Now it rapidly runs off down into the streams, creeks and empties right there on main street into the river."

Sublette also say that the atmosphere is warmer than it was 40 or 50 years ago and because it's more humid, the humidity transfers into stronger rainfall.

Sublette said the unfortunate fact that the hardest rain fell over Ellicott City on Sunday intensified the damage. He said major events like this could happen more often in the coming years.

After 2016's flash flood, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman had the county's planning department draft a plans to prevent future disasters in the area. Officials told reporters that only 30 percent of a flood mitigation project had been finished after it started following the 2016 disaster.

Kittleman told The Associated Press that two stormwater retention ponds were being worked on and there were plans to install pipes to divert water flow.

"Unfortunately, it takes time to have those larger projects get done. And so we were in the process of working on those, but no one could even think that something like this could happen in such a short time," he told the AP.

According to the Associated Press, federal climate extremes index shows that extreme weather events -- including flood-triggering downpours and punishing droughts -- have indeed increased in the U.S.

The National Weather Service said some 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain fell in Ellicott City by Sunday night, when torrents raged through the town. In the July 2016 flood, over 6 inches (15 centimeters) fell, much of it in 90 minutes or less.

The Associated Press contributed to this article