Ellicott City store owners worked to assess the damage Tuesday from torrential downpours that brought destruction downtown for the second time in two years.
Searchers on Tuesday also recovered the body of Eddison “Eddie” Hermond, a National Guard sergeant who went missing after he tried to rescue a woman trapped by the rapidly rising water on Sunday. Howard County police said Hermond’s body was found in the Patapsco River across the county line in Baltimore County.
Hermond, 39, of Severn, Md., had been at a restaurant Sunday helping to celebrate the owner’s birthday. In a statement, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he was “deeply saddened” to hear of Hermond’s death.
“There are no words to adequately describe our sense of loss,” he said.
Hogan has declared a state of emergency, with storefronts and buildings along the historic downtown severely damaged.
Store owners were given special credentials and allowed into the flood zone. State and county officials watched closely, warning against unstable store fronts and all-but-collapsed sidewalks. For many, the bureaucracy of recovery was all too familiar.
Angie Tersiguel, owner of Tersiguel’s, a restaurant on Main Street, had another family restaurant destroyed by fire in 1984 and this same location devastated by the 2016 flood. But she quickly learned that every disaster is unique.
“I thought I was prepared,” she said, standing outside what used to be the front stoop of the historic frame building, now a muddy trench. “But I couldn’t believe it when I got inside.”
It was three floors of soggy devastation, from a debris-filled basement littered with olive oil bottles to a second-floor filled with her employees’ drenched uniforms. Many of her workers had rushed during the deluge to move a wine collection dating to the 1970s to higher floors.
The main floor was a tossed salad of tables, shattered kitchen ware, and an ice-maker split in two.
And on every surface: “The mud! I didn’t expect to see so much mud everywhere. That was new,” she said.
“The mud, right?” chimed in her next-door neighbor, Nicholas Johnson, owner of Su Casa home furnishings, a dripping squeegee in his hand. “There wasn’t this much mud in the water last time.”
Johnson, who lost more than $300,000 in inventory and revenue in 2016, isn’t sure what the damage will be this time. He priced out flood insurance after the last one, but the premiums each year amounted to more than his losses had been.
“We thought it would be okay because we had just had a 1000-year flood,” he said. “No one expected 22 months later to have a second 1000-year flood.”
He doesn’t know if he will rebuild again. “That’s not a decision for today,” he said.
The damage was even more extensive further down Main Street, a steep slope of blown-in doors and blasted-out windows.
It would take a step ladder to bridge the chasm that has opened between the street and the front door at Salon Mariette.
A few doors down, a tree trunk had rammed another shop, its van-sized root ball filling the window space.
Angeline Brannigan looked with awe at the gaping front of her dress shop, A Divaz. She had been inside when the storm started, watching with practiced dread as the water out front grew from runoff to river, filled first with trash, then cars, then chunks of cement.
She was trapped inside. First, waters burst through the rear of her shop, tossing display shelves and climbing up the interior walls. Then, the flood from Main Street took out her front door.
When the water reached close to the top of her plate glass front window, she climbed on a desk, peeled away some of the ceiling tiles and, throwing the strap from one of her display handbags around a sprinkler pipe, held herself clear of the water.
“I think I’ve seen too many survival movies,” she said.
The historic area was hit with similar heavy flooding in the summer of 2016. That storm left two people dead and caused more than $20 million in damage.
Howard County authorities said rescue personnel searched buildings and waterways in the area after the flood, but there are no other reports of missing people.
Justin Wm. Moyer contributed to this report.