I started seeing the videos of the flooding and devastation in Historic Ellicott City Saturday night after driving through torrential rains on our way to Rhode Island for vacation.
I was glued to my Facebook feed as one more harrowing video after another popped up. Ellicott City is just a few miles from my home. My family passes through almost daily on our way to Target, Columbia Mall or just about anywhere. I ride my bike down Main Street weekly, and my husband and I eat dinner there several times a year. I have friends with businesses there, friends who live there, friends who work there. So those videos hit the core of my soul.
On Sunday morning, I was still scanning Facebook as we were coming home from church and reading to my kids some posts from friends. The descriptions were hard to read, hard to fathom — cars caught in a torrent down the middle of what was once Main Street, now a river, with families in them, screaming. A man clinging to the outside of his car as it was washing down the street. A human chain formed in an attempt to save a passenger trapped inside her car before it washed away.
As I was reading, my 15-year-old daughter asked me to please stop. She didn’t want to hear any more. It was too hard. This wasn’t news in a town she’d never been to, never heard of. This is a place she has known her whole life. It’s the street where she used to look for a cardboard cutout of Tinkerbell in the window of a shop every time we passed through. The place where a man stood on a street corner outside of his shop every day blowing bubbles at the passing cars. A place she and her friends liked to shop.
Her twin brother, however, was more like me. He asked to see the videos, wanted to read for himself what I had started reading in the car. You could see the amazement on his face. My oldest says it’s so hard to imagine, so close to home yet so unbelievable.
So now we are on vacation in our happy place. I’m surrounded by beauty and have plans for a bit of de-stressing, but my heart is heavy because I know back home, things are not the same. A place that we loved, a unique and amazing destination just a stone’s throw from home, is in ruins — all from a rainstorm.
We’ve collected some information if you, too, are saddened by the devastation and want to help out. Authorities are asking that people not attempt to enter the area at this time as it’s not safe. Check this Howard County site for the latest information and a map of the No Access Zone. Also check the Howard County Facebook page for the latest information.
Authorities are asking people not to deliver unsolicited donations to the Roger Carter Center, which is being used as a shelter, at this point. Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman says the county will work with American Red Cross to set up a dedicated fund for cash donations, and the Community Action Council of Howard County will be collecting food donations for those affected by the flooding.
If your kids are having trouble coming to grips with the tragedy, here is a good story on Helping kids handle heavy topics.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 17, Lilly, 15, Adam, 15, and Jonah, 11.