Dinnertime Follies
Seven, Part III

Our Town

We spent Sunday afternoon in Baltimore at the annual Brew at the Zoo event, where the biggest challenge we faced was that Jason packed up our cooler full of fancy cheeses and crackers but no knives. After a futile search among the food vendors for a plastic knife, Jason said he had a plan and asked if I was willing to eat a corn dog. 

WHAT KIND OF QUESTION EVEN IS THAT, I ASK YOU. 

I quickly purchased and consumed a corn dog and BAM. We had a handy-dandy spreading stick for our fancy cheese.

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(Twenty years in August, folks!)

There was rain in the forecast so I figured we'd have to bail on the early side, while Jason stubbornly refused to acknowledge the slowly swirling dark clouds overhead.

"I think they're moving away from us," he insisted, as the wind picked up and blew away our crackers.

"I think it's going to miss us," he said, as it started to rain.

"No, really, I bet this will pass in a minute," he predicted, as we huddled under a small tent with 400 other people who all called for an Uber at the exact same moment, and I watched my shoes disappear into a mud puddle. 

It did not pass, it did not miss us. And all our joking back-and-forth ended on the ride home, as we watched rain come down in rapid, violent sheets.

The same way it did two years ago

"I'm worried about the downtown," Jason finally admitted. 

"Meeeeee too," I replied.

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Sure enough, by the time we got home the videos were cropping up on social media and my in-laws were texting because the cable news stations had picked them up. Look. Again. Flooding, destruction, floating cars and the entire contents of stores and restaurants gushing down the street. There goes the iconic clock, a historic cottage, giant chunks of the street and sidewalks that we'd just been walking on the day before. When the town's near-miraculous recovery had simply become a given, albeit still a big source of local pride and #ECSTRONG hashtags and no small amount of merchandise.

Just like that, we're back at devastation square one. 

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The kids are absolutely heartbroken, as am I. What about the vintage toy stores, the Lego train, the comic book shop? Ezra wanted to know about his new favorite restaurant. That chef already swears he'll rebuild again, while the owner of the wine store that hosts the monthly Yappy Hours has admitted it's doubtful they'll be able to come back from this one. I have a list of birthday gift requests from Ike that I doubt I'll be able to fulfill now, as all the stores are closed, and most of the items were likely washed down into the river. 

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These are all minor inconveniences, of course. Residents are displaced, historic homes and businesses are destroyed, and a National Guardsman is missing.

A once-in-a-1,000 year flood, coming once again, just two years after the last once-in-a-1,000-year flood. 

Our backyard is muddy and we lost a few tree branches, but we're fine. (Mostly because our neighborhood is part of the problem, part of a decades-long rush to develop the area without proper drainage planning.) We're hoping to volunteer soon and help out, once things stabilize a bit. (Though I had to stop Jason from trying to go down there to help out on Sunday evening, when he hit the Helplessness Wall after sitting at home watching the destruction unfold on his phone screen.) 

For now, the county's volunteer sites have all crashed from the demand, donations are reportedly pouring in, and the local benefits and fundraisers have already started. We'll be at as many as we can, and hopefully we'll be allowed back downtown soon to help out with some shovels and work gloves and beers. 

But we know it might be tougher this time to convince other people to help and give, and that yes, this old little town is worth saving. Still. Again. 

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Comments

Lee

I am so heartbroken for you all. I do have to ask, was ANYTHING done to even begin to mitigate the issues after the last flood? I know bureaucracy moves at a snails pace, I'm just wondering. Hugs

Chris

There are really no words, I'm just so sorry. I hope the city finds a way to shore up the problem areas...your gorgeous town does not deserve this. :(

LeighTX

I saw this on the news yesterday and thought of you. I understand the helpless feeling; we live in Houston and although we did not flood in Harvey, many MANY of our friends and acquaintances did and some are still rebuilding almost a year later. One friend flooded for the third year in a row; rebuilding isn't optional for her because there's no way she'll ever sell her house now.

One thing besides mucking and shoveling that can be helpful is to write and call and cajole your local and state officials for mitigation plans; they cannot deny there's a problem, and it's time they came up with a solution.

Katie H.

I'm so sorry!!! I know you love that little city and I know people can rebuild, but some just won't be able to and that's so sad. Hopefully this will finally get the city to fix the problem so it never happens again. :(

Elaine C. B.

If you do some sort of link-a-palooza to local stores or charities I'm happy to donate. (For personal reasons I refuse to donate to Red Cross, even though they are sometimes the fastest to get organized with a donate button.) I'm from Baton Rouge and I remember the Ellicott stories from two years ago as well when BR got hit with 1,000 year floods at pretty much the same time, and yeah, it sucks. I'm sorry for your community and am sending some optimism their way in the meantime.

Alicia Rabak

I'm up in Bel Air, and had been watching the rebuild of EC, and thinking that this summer we'd take a day trip down. And then Sunday evening, watching WBAL while cooking dinner, I felt tears running down my face that it had happened again. I'm so sorry for all of you living there, I can't imagine the pain felt watching what seemed like a re-airing of past coverage. Hopefully this time, officials fix the problems before encouraging people to rebuild. Those shop owners have to really feel like they were duped into reopening after the last time.

rose

Support your local and state and federal candidates and programs that see this new reality and think people can take actions to help our world. VOTE. End denial. VOTE!
Say YES to science, yes to equality of education and opportunity for all.

I am sorry for your community. We, as communities, states and a nation, need to spend the money and effort to prepare better and differently now than we did in the 50's. Change has already happened and will continue. Our nation is part of a world and the world is in this as a whole.
VOTE. Show up for political meetings. Be heard and seen.

It is hard and will be harder the longer the waiting continues.

Jess

I was thinking of you all yesterday when I saw the news popping up on Twitter. Keep us posted on ways to donate - I’m in.

janine

i caught snippets on the news yesterday and was hoping it was a different part of MD, sorry that's not the case :(

Ally

I am SO sorry to hear this. I just watched some of the news coverage and it's devastating. Even more so since it just happened two years ago. I'm sad for your town and for the businesses that were lost! There are far too many small businesses being devastated in other ways these days. No such thing as climate change though, right??? *rolls eyes*

Please keep us posted on donation efforts - there are plenty of us who are more than willing to help out!

Lauren E

So glad you are ok. My cousin and his family live in EC as well...their basement and two rooms of their house were flooded.

kim too

I saw those videos and immediately thought of you. I'm so sorry! And glad you're ok.

Sue W.

Been thinking of you since I heard about the flooding. Hoping you were ok. Knowing that so many of your favorite downtown stores were flooded again and thinking some might not be able to come back a second time. Please update us with a local link to donate to when you find one. Keeping the residents of EC in my thoughts.

Anon For This One

I cannot believe we have people saying things like "hope the officials fix it so there's no more flooding".

THIS IS GLOBAL WARMING. THESE EVENTS WILL CONTINUE AND KEEP GETTING WORSE IF WE DON'T ALL STEP UP AND DO MANY MANY MANY MANY THINGS. LIFESTYLE CHANGING, RESOURCE SHIFTING, PRIORITY REARRANGING SACRIFICES. This is not an isolated incident, a little poorly handled city planning, fixed with some better engineering and flood management planning. This is the New Normal and we're all responsible. Not a time to sit back and cluck our tongues and hope someone else will get a clue. Good lord.

Rebecca

I was SO WORRIED about you all after I saw the news this morning. Really. I have never been to your fine town but the posts from two years ago stuck with me. It is only 90 degrees here in Vegas, unseasonably cool for us (seriously) while all kinds of fuckery is happening with the weather across the country. Global warming sucks beans. I am glad you and yours are safe.

Alison

So terrible. I was on twitter yesterday and saw this and immediately thought of you guys. I’m glad you’re okay. Let us know the good charities once you can.

Andrea

I am so saddened about the National Guardsman (I mean, not JUST that), as I watched the woman he saved cry and cry stating she never wanted anyone to DIE saving her. It's just...I mean, what are the words? All rivers and inlets and such lead to this beautiful little city who takes the brunt being in a valley, for everyone else?

Annie Rie

Love this place. Have lived in HoCo for 44 years.

Pure Wine, I hope they recover. Nothing like dinner on their patio overlooking the roads.

The Wine Bin. Dave says he will rebuild. I hope so.

Tersiquels. Memories beyond belief. Eons ago, at Papillon, we got engaged. Michel's dad, Fernand, was the chef. That restaurant closed, and Chez Fernand opened.

We had many wine dinners ar Chez Fernand and at Tersquel's.

Jennifer

As soon as I saw EC on the news I thought of you. I'm so sorry this is happening again.

Sarah

Quite a bit was done, and more was planned, but it obviously wasn't enough. I believe some scheduled things were simply not yet implemented. Two years is not long in terms of gathering money and effecting repairs, and the efforts that were made were enormous. Today's "Washington Post" has an article about the great flood of 1868, in which many lives were lost (and no rain fell in the town!). Many, many solutions are required. I particularly like the call from a meteorologist for an early warning system as one facet. Storms are clearly getting worse but the town is naturally a victim of geography and geology even without the exacerbation of modern development. I cannot understand how anybody debates climate change; whatever they consider the cause, or however long they think it will last.

Christine

I was just incredulous when I saw this unfolding on Sunday afternoon. I'd come back from Laurel, where storm clouds seemed to be threatening, but the rain never reached us - because it was sitting on top of you guys for hours. I am so sorry, horrified, appalled. Glad you're all safe, mind.

Meredith

One of my Facebook acquaintances was friends with the veteran who gave his life. I can’t imagine.

This will sound tone-deaf now, I think, but maybe talk to others in your development about rain gardens? Catch basins or swales for the rain to slowly absorb into the ground. It’s something that people can do on their own property to mitigate runoff from paved / impermeable surfaces.

Kyla

I saw the coverage and wondered if it could be your town - again. I'm so sorry!

JenVegas

I have a number of friends from that area and I was heartbroken for all of you watching this happen again over the weekend. Stay strong, EC!

Brita

I am so sorry your community is going through this (again). It sounds like you have a cohesive support network that will build it back up. How heartbreaking.

tiffany lewis

Sending lots of love! I experienced the SF earthquake of 89 and the most recent Napa/Sonoma wildfires, which were horrifying. The stress and anxiety of these natural disasters takes and toll and has long term emotional affects. So make sure to practice some self care and encourage your husband to do the same. xo.

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