Monday, August 1, 2016

The Nature of things

Saturday was like most any other summer day around here...stultifyingly muggy with alternating clouds and sunshine, and temperatures in the upper 80s. But all day long the weather people were warning of storms to come later, and when they did arrive, they were awful. 

There are "flood-prone" areas in the central Maryland area. One of them is along the banks of the Jones Falls, which runs from the county down to the reservoir at Lake Roland and finally ends up in the Inner Harbor downtown. Along the way are old buildings built in the milling days, when the rushing water powered waterwheels, and, naturally, these old mills are quaint and popular now as restaurants, bike rental shops and the like.

Unfortunately, they flooded on Saturday, with people coming out of dining spots after dinner to find their cars were headed to the inner harbor without benefit of a driver.

Ellicott City, Saturday night
And it was even worse in historic Ellicott City (pronounced ELLikit, for the benefit of new reporters in town). 6.4 inches of rain fell in the early hours of Saturday evening, and there is tremendous damage.  I'm writing this on Sunday afternoon, and two people - a man and a woman - have been found dead in the debris. There might still be others, sad to say.  And the property damage is stunning.  Ellicott City is an old mill town with a charming old Main Street with shops and bistros and art galleries. But it's at the bottom of a valley with the Patapsco River for a neighbor, and when there's too much rain, there is nowhere for it to go.

This being America, the greatest nation on the face of the earth (no disrespect to my friends in other countries, but nowhere else do people pull together for the common good like we 'Muricans) there are already people organizing to round up needed supplies, so if you're not too far from the North Saint Johns Pool on Marydell Road, tonight from 4-7 pm, people will be collecting large 5-gallon buckets with lids, heavy duty trash bags, snow shovels (to remove mud and debris), bleach, rubber gloves, large sponges, scouring pads, scrub brushes, Lysol, dust masks, and cash/checks made out to The Ellicott City Partnership to be used to buy items.

Why even try?
I can't let this go without one more word.  We saw the news videos of people forming human chains to pull others out of cars and floodwaters. And, of course, we saw people trying to drive their cars through floodwaters, and one man holding his car by the opened door frame, literally trying to pull it to the side of the road. The motto "Turn around, don't drown!" is good to bear in mind. Please decide right now, because when things like this flood happen, they often happen without warning, that you will regard your life as more important than an automobile. Just don't take the chance!


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