June 23, 2020

Media Contact:

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

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, County Executive Calvin Ball announced the Ellicott City Safe and Sound’s stream debris removal program was triggered by last night’s severe thunderstorms. The Ellicott City Outdoor Tone Alert system was also triggered, for the first time since installation, after the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning. The tone alert system was set off a second time by the Howard County Office of Emergency Management to ensure it was heard over the severe weather that was taking place. The County’s rain gauge at the Centennial Dam recorded 2.2 inches of rain over the course of an hour while the gauges in Ellicott City recorded 1.85 inches over the same time period.

“Last night’s storms brought intense rainfall and wind, setting off the outdoor tone alert system and triggering our teams this morning to remove any debris to keep our streams clear,” said Ball. “The tone alert system is intended to warn pedestrians and others outdoors in Ellicott City to seek higher ground in the case of flash flooding. The debris removal taking place this morning will prevent debris from collecting and causing stream blockages for future storms. We’re thankful for our EcoWorks team, who are still able to complete these inspections while taking extra precautions for COVID-19.”

In other parts of the County, a number of frequently flooded roads are currently flooded. There are currently 931 power outages Countywide, the majority of which are located in the 21042 zip code.

The enhanced stream 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 county 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.

"Yesterday evening was nerve-wracking, but we are glad that everyone is safe,” said Lori Lilly, Executive Director of Howard EcoWorks. “Our team was out beginning inspections within 2 hours of notice of the triggering event.  We are proud to do our small part in support of Ellicott City and Howard County Government."

To follow the progress of inspections and debris removal, please visit www.ecsafeandsound.org.

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