Flash Flooding: Impact of Community Participation and Planning on Recovery

U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Posted on: 4/27/2020 - Updated on: 4/27/2020

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Ellicott City is an unincorporated town in Howard County, Maryland. Founded in 1772 at the bottom of a valley by Johan and Joseph Ellicott, specifically to harness the power of the Tiber and Patapsco Rivers to power the brothers’ mills, the terrain of the city includes steep inclines and an abundance of nonporous granite. The town has been prone to flooding since its founding, with most previous floods originating from the Patapsco River at the bottom of the valley and spreading into the city.

Project Goal: Evaluate the impact that pre-disaster planning and community participation had on shaping economic recovery after a dangerous flood in a historic city.

Howard County’s Six Guiding Principles for Recovery

  1. Healing: Foster the healing process for community members through the access of a wide range of social and financial resources.
  2. Economy: Expedite business recovery and restore long-term economic growth.
  3. Stability: Find immediate and long-term housing solutions for residents displaced by the flooding.
  4. Rebuilding: Rebuild Historic Ellicott City with an emphasis on resilient infrastructure through flood mitigation.
  5. Preservation: Preserve Historic Ellicott City’s unique and cherished architectural characteristics that have always attracted visitors.
  6. Environment: Pursue and implement projects that ensure the continued vitality of our natural resources in pursuit of sustainable quality of life.

Affiliated Organizations

FEMA’s mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. The challenges posed by more intense storms, frequent heavy rain, heat waves, drought, extreme flooding, and higher sea levels could lead to increased risks from disasters faced by communities and the emergency management professionals serving them.