State Reassessing Emergency Response After Ellicott City Flooding

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Almost six months since the flood in Ellicott City, businesses are still recovering, and now lawmakers are reassessing the state’s emergency response.

It was all hands on deck when Ellicott City’s Main Street went under water, but did those hands get there fast enough?

Back on July 30, 2016, the rain came and the water kept on rising in Ellicott City. Two people were killed and many others were displaced, with damages in the millions.

“I filmed the water rushing into our basement and destroying our frame shop,” said flood victim David Dempster. “And it went all the way up to the ceiling. It was completely lost.”

There were more than 100 businesses that were damaged or destroyed. The encouraging news is 70 of those businesses are now open.

Though some have reopened, others are still struggling to recover, even with the state and others in Maryland stepping in to help.

“This was a devastating event for the state,” said Dereck Davis, chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee. “It’s heartbreaking the stories that we heard, the businesses that were lost, the suffering that the citizens incurred.”

Davis and his House committee are on a fact finding mission to assess the government’s response to this emergency.

They want to see what lessons were learned and where improvement might be needed.

“[Reporter: A better game plan?] A better game plan,” said Davis.

The committee is especially looking at reports of time delays in getting financial help to businesses.

“We’ve heard of some time delays and you don’t want to point fingers,” said Davis. “This was tough for everybody, but as a state, we have to make sure we’re serving our citizens to the best of our ability.”

Legislation fine tuning the state’s response to catastrophic events could be coming this session.

“There’s nothing more discouraging for a businessman than to have to tell his employees goodbye and his customers goodbye,” said Delegate Sally Jameson.

There have been $15 million in county expenditures so far.

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