No one talked directly about a rumored plan afoot to tear down a stretch of historic buildings—from Caplan’s down to Phoenix—at yesterday’s “Oversight Hearing on Repeated Flooding Events in Ellicott City,” held in our very own George Howard Building by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen presiding.
Congressman Elijah Cummings began testimony by acknowledging our urgent need for “a coordinated, deliberate, thoughtful flood control effort that is informed by the best available science and that has adequate funding to build the infrastructure needed to protect” Ellicott City. Following Congressman Cummings were two federal agency representatives: the newly installed Commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, Colonel John Litz and Cecil Rodrigues, Deputy Regional Administrator for the U.S. EPA, Region 3. They were asked: “How can the Corps and EPA assist”? Colonel Litz’s response: In the near term, risk communication and emergency preparedness, and the flood proofing measures already recommended by the Corps in its 2018 report [at each individual property owner’s expense]. In the long term, “a comprehensive, collaborative plan,” based on a watershed-wide study, to develop a holistic solution. He could not confirm whether or which of the slew of historical reports on the shelf, dating back as far as 1994, might appropriately be relied upon by the Corps in its own analysis. Mr. Rodrigues, in turn, outlined a host of funding mechanisms available to local governments for storm water infrastructure specifically, including low-interest and long-term loans, and grants.
Yes, some on the last panel of local government and community representatives alluded to a “radical change” in old Ellicott City. But none spoke on the record about what specifically that might entail, or why. Rather, the Patapsco Heritage Greenway’s Grace Kubofcik (Koo-BOFF-Sick, dammit) laid out why every effort should be made to safely preserve the iconic, historic streetscape of this old mill town. As much of it as we very possibly can.
Senator Cardin closed the two-hour hearing with this: Old Ellicott City is “a treasure,” he remarked. And he promised, that our federal delegation would do everything it possibly could do to preserve this treasure of ours. (Me too, Ben. Me too.)
You know more about “The Alexander Plan” and what it could mean for old Ellicott City? Tell us, please. We’re dying to know.
Meantime, I’ll be working up my own written submission about repeated flooding events in Ellicott City to enter into the hearing record, and collecting for you—in one place—all of the historical flood reports and recommendations we can find. You can submit on the hearing record, too. Through September 3, close of business, they’ll take any relevant materials you may have, reports included. Your submission should be addressed to the Subcommittee Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Cardin, but can be sent electronically to Shannon_Frede@cardin.senate.gov, full instructions in the last shot below.❤️