June 25, 2020

Media Contact: 

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412 

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County has completed the installation of private access point gates in Historic Ellicott City, allowing pedestrians to retreat quickly to higher ground in the case of imminent flash flooding. The gates, located at 8060 and 8044 Main Street, provide additional egress points out of the floodplain. The gates are only intended to be used when a flash flood is either imminent or occurring and when pedestrians in the area have no other alternatives to get to high ground quickly.

“In our Ellicott City Safe and Sound plan we made it a priority to implement additional public safety measures to keep residents safe in case of extreme flooding,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “These private access points provide additional egress points out of the floodplain and are equipped with a high-water sensor to open automatically. We’re incredibly grateful to these property owners who have worked with us to install these innovative gates and dramatically improve public safety.” 

In the event of rising water, the gates are equipped with a high-water sensor that will automatically open them when approximately 1.5” of water above the sidewalk is sensed. In the event of a power failure and loss of battery back-up, the gates will unlock. Howard County’s public safety team also can unlock the gates as needed.  

County Executive Ball has made public safety a core priority of the Ellicott City Safe and Sound plan. In addition to acquiring access to private property, the Ball administration implemented an outdoor public alert tone system, installed “High Ground” signage along Main Street to identify routes out of the floodplain, and distributed emergency preparedness kits to businesses. 

Severe storms earlier this week triggered both the alert system and the enhanced stream debris removal program. The debris removal program was one of the first initiatives announced under the Safe and Sound plan. The intent of the program is to ensure that certain waterways in the county are inspected on a more regular basis to reduce the risk of debris causing flooding during severe weather events. To date, more than 10 tons of debris have been removed from the waterways. 

The program mandates that 56 inspection points along 9 waterways are inspected within 3 business days any time the County has a rainfall of two inches or greater in a 24-hour period, or after an hour of sustained winds more than 30 mph. Crews from Howard EcoWorks and the Department of Public Works then have 14 business days to remove debris.  


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