The Aftermath of the 2018 Ellicott City Flood: Could More Have Been Done?

Words: Maddie Wirebach

It was the one-in-a-thousand event no one expected to happen twice in under two years: the devastating flooding of Old Ellicott City on May 27, 2018 almost exactly 22 months after the July 30, 2016 storm. Stores, memories, history, lives- these were just a few of the things swept away in hours during the powerful storm that Sunday afternoon.

The storm in May brought 7.5” of rain in about five hours, the majority of the rain falling in just 3 hours. It wiped out businesses, destroyed cars, and even washed away 25 feet of Ellicott Mills Drive.

What made this second flood so much more heartbreaking was the fact that dozens of business owners had picked themselves up after the 2016 flood, brushed their hands off, and rebuilt, stronger than ever. Although it was a struggle, they opened up their doors for business and came out not as victims, but survivors, only for the unthinkable to happen a second time.

But when you look a little bit closer, was this second flood really all that unimaginable?

Since the 1800s, Ellicott City has endured six tributary-based floods mainly because of its location at the meeting point of the Tiber-Hudson watershed, where four tributary streams contribute to the Patapsco River. This location, though once ideal for Ellicott City’s original purpose as a mill town, and the development over stream channels has spelled disaster for the 246-year-old town.

Ellicott City lacks a natural floodplain, an area for flood water to run, meaning that man-made channels were created. Over the years, the channels have grown narrower as buildings and facilities have been established on top. At some points the channels make 90-degree turns, which are impossible for rushing flood water to flow through, and ultimately result in the water jumping the turn and flowing down the main street.

On that fateful day in May, the ravaging water ripped through storefronts, destroying anything in sight.

Jeff Braswell, owner of Primitive Beginnings, recounted the terrifying phone call he received about the flooding. At the time of the flood, Braswell was at his children’s swim practice, and rushed downtown when his employee and two customers were stuck in the store.

Primitive Beginnings owner Jeff Braswell carries employee, Samantha Kelley, who was trapped in the flood-wrecked store through rushing water. Photo contributed by Jeff Braswell.

“I actually couldn’t believe it,” Braswell recalled. “No way there would be a 1000 year flood again.”

The 2016 flood caused major setbacks for Braswell’s other company, halting the process of moving into Main Street.

“We were 8 days from moving our other company into town in the Taylor’s building, so the [2016 flood] delayed us from moving in,” described Braswell.

“This time we actually had a retail store completely wrecked. It’s shocking to see everything you worked hard for taken from you.”

Beyond the emotional distress, financial issues surfaced immediately. The most recent flood left Braswell with no choice but to close down Primitive Beginnings’ other location in Fells Point.

Now, county officials have proposed a five-year plan which would see the demolishment of ten buildings on lower Main Street (the area most damaged), the addition of two culverts to redirect water flow, the expansion of the Ellicott Mills culvert, construction of open space on lower Main Street, and the creation of two water retention facilities.

With all of these new plans coming to fruition soon, it’s natural to wonder, was enough done after the 2016 flood?

That question is hard to answer. Efforts were made, undoubtedly, prior to the 2018 flood; however, no one really expected a second “1-in-a-1000” flood to happen in just 22 months after the 2016 storm.

Leading up to the most recent storm, recovery and prevention projects were in progress, including the construction of water retention ponds, according to a statement made by Allan Kittleman, county executive for Howard County, to the Associated Press.

It was clear to Braswell that progress, though slow, was being made.

“I’ve seen a lot of work done in town. [The county] literally just got funding to work on new projects two weeks before this past flood,” commented Braswell.

With weather patterns constantly changing, and the unpredictability of flash flooding in general, it is difficult to judge whether or not enough was done to prevent this most recent flood.

“Change takes time,” said Braswell. “It was changing. We just didn’t move fast enough.”

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Varsity Boys Soccer Loses to Reservoir

Words & Photos: Delanie Tucker

On Tuesday, October 2, the Centennial Boys Varsity Soccer team took a devastating loss to Reservoir High School.

After a long, hard fought game, the boys had to settle on a 2-0 score-line.

Though the outcome was not as anticipated, the team fought hard to keep it at two, and tried to get one on the board for themselves. Reservoirs defense held strong, but Centennial put up quite a fight.

The game was very aggressive, and Reservoir received four yellow cards for their physicality, while Centennial only received one.

River Hill High School will host the Eagles in their next game on Thursday, October 4.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Through a Tiebreaker, Centennial Cross Country Captures the Howard County Invitational Title

Words: Celina Wong

On September 8, 2018, the Centennial Girls Cross Country team scored big by beating Howard High School in a tiebreaker, securing the Howard County Invitational title.

In cross country, the top five runners are considered to be ‘scoring runners.’ Whatever place each runner earns tallies up into a total point value. During this race, the top five runners from both Centennial and Howard had the same total score.

Centennial’s sixth runner, junior, Apoorva Ajith, broke the tie score of 65 points, beating Howard’s sixth runner by a mere six seconds.

“I was elated,” said Ajith about the win. “I was proud of my team and myself and just happy I made a difference to help the team win.”

Ajith explained how this title sets the tone for the rest of the season.

“I think this [win] shows how serious we are about the state title and it really boosted morale for us to just keep pushing.”

Senior captain, Cora Blount, commented on how the underclassmen will perform next year without the support of the seniors.

“I think it will be hard for the underclassmen because they’ve had us on the team since freshman year, but the juniors will be able to fulfill the role.”

The girls also competed on the iconic Bull Rull course on September 22. Blount and Alison Betler placed 12th and 19th, respectively. Overall, the girls scored 217 points and placed 8th. Centennial High School will continue to fight for their spot in the county at a tri-meet on Wednesday, October 17, at River Hill High School.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial’s Allied Soccer Team Loses Tough Game to Atholton

Words and Photos: Shawn Kruhm

On Monday, October 1, Centennial Allied Soccer was defeated by a score of 4-1.

The game started off slow, leaving both teams scoreless at the end of the first quarter. It was not until the end of the second quarter that Centennial took a 1-0 lead.

With just fifteen seconds left in the half, Senior, Hassan Hamound scored Centennial’s lone goal of the day.

An astounding first half shutout was due to Mike McCarthy’s three saves in goal, and numerous defensive stops and clears from Ian Winters.

Once the second half kicked off, the Eagles began to struggle, allowing two goals in under 45 seconds. Atholton finished the third quarter with three goals of their own, taking a 3-1 lead.

Atholton added to their lead with one final goal in the fourth quarter to take down  Centennial 4-1.

Centennial hopes to bounce back strong against Hammond today at 3:00 pm.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial Students’ Homecoming Rituals

Words: Natalie Knight-Griffin

As homecoming nears, Centennial students prepare for the exciting night in various ways. In the days approaching homecoming, students showcase their school pride with a range of spirit days including pajama day, tropical day, USA day, decades day, and color day.
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Outside of school traditions, students prepare for the dance with their own traditions. Many who plan on attending the dance spend the day getting ready, ordering pizza, listening to music, and even practicing dance moves.

“I typically go and get my nails done a few days beforehand,” says junior Sara Ferrara. “My friends and I also love doing facemasks the night before for our skin.”

Preparing for homecoming can be a long and extensive process. Everyone has special routines to ensure the night is a success. But really, homecoming is what you make of it.

“I look forward to getting ready with a group of friends,” says freshman Ella Boodin. “It’ll be fun to listen to music and pump each other up!”

From freshmen to seniors, students preparing for homecoming spend hours, and for some, even days to make sure they look their best. With the perfect dress or suit, hair and nails, or whatever you please, homecoming brings a feeling of confidence and excitement to students.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial’s 2018-2019 Pancake Breakfast

Words: Zach Grable

Photos: Eliza Andrew

On Saturday, September 29, Centennial’s annual Pancake Breakfast was held in the cafeteria.

This fundraising event helps Centennial PTA and Boosters.

There were many students and parents in attendance, as well as the Oriole Bird.

 

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.