By Ellie Mamula
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Joey and Charlie Tangires had never seen anything like it.
Main Street in Old Ellicott City had become a raging river as waste deep water gushed through the downtown area, killing two people and wiping away more than 90 businesses and 100 homes last August.
The brothers, who live on Main Street in Old Ellicott City, suffered several thousand dollars in damages to their home in the flood and had to stay with relatives outside of Howard County for two months while their house was repaired.
“It was nothing I have ever seen before” Charlie Tangires said. “I thought I was in a dream, well, a nightmare I guess. Our neighbors and everyone were trying to stay safe inside, but we couldn’t help but try to be outside and make sure everyone was OK.”
Four months later, more than 70 stores in the city’s historic downtown area were able to open their doors in time for the holiday shopping season, marking a comeback that a Chamber of Commerce official said was incredible.
Thousands of people volunteered and helped rebuild Main Street for its reopening in time for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, when Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman cut a ribbon celebrating the opening.
“It was really cool to see the entire community come together to support each other,” Joey Tangires said. “It has been a rough four months for Old Ellicott City. Insurance didn’t cover a lot of the damages for businesses and homes, so I never thought the community would have a comeback like this.”
Brittany Hill, who lives in Old Ellicott City, said that Sweet Elizabeth Jane is her favorite store on Main Street that was destroyed in the flood.
“I am in SEJ a few times a month,” Hill said. “Everyone is so nice. It is like the perfect example of how everyone is family down here.”
Sweet Elizabeth Jane is a vintage inspired antique store that was located in the Caplan Building on Main Street. The flood destroyed both floors of the store along with its merchandise and antiques, which washed away down to the Patapsco River.
“It was heartwarming to see how many people stepped up and who were dedicated to helping SEJ and the rest of Main Street to get back on their feet,” Hill said. “The Caplan Building was my favorite building on Main Street, and SEJ filled it beautifully.”
A Go-Fund-Me page was created for Sweet Elizabeth Jane with a goal of $35,000. They have raised $22,461, and have reopened in a temporary space up the street from Caplan until it has finished its renovations.
John Isitok, a spokesman for the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, said the rebuilding on Main Street has been incredible.
“Allan Kittleman has done a tremendous job rebuilding our community and planning proper flood measures that will protect the town better,” Isitok said.