Two dead, 100 rescued. This happens once in every 1000 years. Over six inches of water in 2 hours, in a town surrounded by rivers. These are the things I heard as I woke up Sunday morning after witnessing the devastating floods rush through my home town of Historic Ellicott City, MD.
It was a normal Saturday night in my town, people walking into town for dinner, drinks, and shopping, my co-workers working hard at the store, and my mom and I eating dinner and watching TV. We both got an alert on our phone saying that there was a flash flood warning, but we didn't think anything of it, this is Maryland after all. Within the hour, we looked outside of our house in curiosity and worry to find our street flooded, logs and rocks coming washing down the road, water pounding and pushing cars parked on the street, and cars swerving and speeding to get to higher ground.
We knew these floods were bad, but did not realize the extent of devastation they would cause. Only 20 minutes later, two people show up on our porch, telling us that they are employees downtown and can't get home, their ceiling had caved in and their store was flooding. My mother and I start to receive multiple texts and calls asking if we were safe, telling us our small town was on the news. In awe and sadness, we went to sleep that night, only to wake up the next morning to a town in despair.
Ellicott City has been my home for 18 years, my place of employment for five, and a community I am beyond grateful to be a part of. I was fortunate enough to grow up right next to Main Street, to be involved in my community, and to cherish the beauty and history this town holds. However, on July 30, 2016, it was washed away. Many businesses and homes have been destroyed, completely flooded and collapsed.
There have been countless amounts of construction workers, police officers, news crews, and helicopters flying overhead, assessing the destruction these floods caused. Our town is filled with some of the most strong-willed, kind hearted, and hard working individuals I have ever met, and seeing the sadness in their eyes as they run back into town for the momentary glimpse they get to see their homes and businesses and grab their belongings hurts my heart.
I remember walking into this town as a little girl, getting pizza to eat and blowing bubbles at The Forget-Me-Not Factory. I remember getting my very first job here, shopping for clothes, and working at a store with girls that are like family to me. I listen to the train go by every night, the laughs of people as they walk into town, and attend so many community events and festivals celebrating our town.
As I walk to the end of my street, I no longer see cars buzzing by and people walking into town on a breezy summer day. I now see orange fences, dirt and broken road, police cars, tents filled with construction workers and volunteers, and an empty town. While this devastation is something that I will most certainly never forget, the love I have for this town is shared by many. The entire Ellicott City community, as well as communities close by, have handled this situation with kindness and generosity I have never seen before. Volunteer efforts, donations, fundraisers, and endless amounts of prayers and warm messages have been sent to our town, and I am beyond confident that we will come back from this, and be #ECStrong.
Ellicott City - I love you, and I always will, you are my home and my memories, and you will always hold my heart.