Devastating flash floods put US towns in peril, forcing real estate developers to change strategy
On Memorial Day weekend, a catastrophic flash flood ripped through a town founded four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Water crashed through walls, exploded through heavy doors and destroyed businesses up and down the once-kitschy Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland. It would have been called a 1,000-year flood, had the same destructive deluge not crashed through town just two years earlier.
The first time, in 2016, on the city’s nearly 2½-century-old Main Street, shop owners like Donna Sanger worked tirelessly to rebuild. It took months, but the city and the tourists came back.
“There was this enthusiasm. Let’s build, let’s put on a show, let’s bring the town back, we’re EC strong!” said Sanger, standing in front of her kitchen sundries store. But in 2018, the feeling is different.
“This is more like a funeral,” she said.
Business owners now say they feel like these destructive floods are the new normal. This historic town of more than 65,000 residents, barely a blip on the map, is a blueprint for developing disaster — real estate development in the face of increasingly wet weather.