We all know what causes these floods.These aren’t the natural disasters of Ellicott City’s centuries-long history. It’s not the Patapsco River churning up into the slew at the very bottom of Main Street, behind that once-again missing clock.
No. It’s a thousand different vicious rivers. Muddy, churning, swift. Gushing down every slope and gutter and street, careening down the steep hillsides that loom above this narrow little arc of resilience and hope.
From up in the hills. Where old plans and re-development get grandfathered in under old laws. Where the County declines to enforce even the barest minimum State and local conservation requirements, for even the very largest trees or thickest forest canopies. Where the County waives mandated buffer zones and set backs, from perennial and intermittent streams, from adjacent properties and from scenic roads. Where wetlands don’t necessarily warrant wetlands protection if it means Developer LLC can’t fit in all those houses it wants.
Howard County has commissioned plenty of task forces, and working groups, and reports on the subject of flooding in this old town. Plenty of them recent. I’m guessing other state and federal agencies have, too. They say, openly or in veiled terms: more must be done to control development upstream. And then they sit on the shelf next to all the other compromise recommendations, waiting for the next one to join them. And the County does nothing different. Again and again and again.
I am furious. And I am grief-stricken. For the friends and family of missing (edit:now confirmed deceased) Eddison Hermond. For my hometown. For common sense.
I will not abide any further County complicity with this man-made destruction and loss. I will not. I cannot. Not one more time.