Howard County Plans Better Warnings for Flash Floods
Residents could see a flash flood rating system and an increased number of rain gardens.
Howard County officials want to do a better job of warning residents that a flash flood is coming.
Officials, in fact, have included that as a goal in a new report outlining how to protect residents and businesses from floods.
The plan was about a year in the making and comes coincidentally after recent rains from Tropical Storm Lee caused a 20-year flood in parts of the county, according to Howard Saltzman of the county's storm water management division.
The plan's public release comes amid news that Howard County was not among the areas in Maryland to receive federal funding for flood-related disaster assistance related to Lee.
The declaration by President Obama means Federal Emergency Management Agency money would go to those local governments and agencies to cover public storm expenses, according to the Howard County Times.
Ellicott City was among the areas in Howard County hardest hit; Main Street was evacuated due to rain and flooding.
Roads across Howard County were also shut down during the storm.
According to the plan, 41 roads in Howard County frequently flood and need to be prioritized for federal funding to pay to increase their elevation.
Saltzman said that several of the 26 projects recommended in the official Flood Mitigation Plan are already in effect, including dam inspections, flood preparations for dams and bridges, and continued identification of properties that are prone to flood.
Among the projects rated as "high priority" by the plan's steering committee were creating a database of properties that have been relocated or flood-proofed and creating a rating system for flash flood threats–as opposed to the mere flash flood warning.
"If we can get better at predicting who might be affected, then we can get the warning out to them sooner and they can prepare," said Saltzman.
Two of the projects have a completion timeline of five to 10 years, while roughly a dozen of the projects could be done in one or two years. The county will approach each project as time permits and funds become available, but the committee can also modify the plan as it sees fit, Saltzman said.
Some of the new projects in the Flood Mitigation Plan include:
- Creating a warning and rating system to predict flashflood threats
- Studying the wastewater treatment plant in Savage, which lies within the 100-year floodplain, by looking at the possibility of elevation or creating a barrier wall for the plant and pumping stations.
- Floodproofing or relocating High Road Academy in North Laurel
- Developing a database of properties that have been relocated, acquired, elevated or flood-proofed
- Developing incentives to promote green infrastructure concepts for storm water retention like rain gardens and rain barrels
- Considering an ordinance that would encourage the reduction of impervious surface installations, which contribute to puddling and flooding