Chanté Coleman, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, recently wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post.
In late May, residents and business owners in historic Ellicott City were just closing the books on a 2016 flood there when they were forced to watch again as water overwhelmed their community. A severe storm had brought about 10 inches of rain in three hours. Flooding like this has occurred frequently in Ellicott City for decades, but it is not geographically unique. In recent weeks, we have seen flooding on the Mall in Washington , in Prince George’s County, in Old Town Alexandria and in the neighborhoods of West Baltimore.
Yet, the tragic and deadly event in Ellicott City sparked a lively debate among residents, engineers, environmentalists and state and local officials. How could a 1,000-year flood occur twice in two years? Is the flooding related to poor development practices that remove forests and pave over the land? Are we lacking critical flood-reducing infrastructure? Is the land sinking? Is climate change playing a role?
The answer: all of the above.