Floodplain & Flood Protection

Floodplains are low land areas that are located next to rivers, streams, and lakes. Floodplains provide natural filtration of pollutants and provide breeding and feeding areas for wildlife.

During increased rain and snow activity flood­plains store rainwater, melted snow­fall, and reduce flooding in surrounding areas. It is important to allow the flood­plain to carry and store flood­waters in order to protect human life and property from flood damage and this is why Howard County does not allow new construction in the floodplain.

Dumping into our streams and rivers is a violation of Howard County Code. Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and plug channels. Also, when you expect a heavy rain or snow event, check that your local storm drains are clear of debris. This will prevent water from backing up and flooding local areas.

Howard County’s Flood Protection webpage provides lots of valuable information about the County’s efforts to deal with flooding, including: Floodplain Drainage System Maintenance, Local Flood Warning System, Real Time Gauges, and NOAA Radios, Flood Safety, Flood Protection Measures, Flood Insurance and more.

Ellicott City Flood

On July 30, 2016, Ellicott City was dealt a devastating blow when six inches of rain fell in less than two hours, causing a destructive flash flood that claimed two lives, damaged 90 businesses and hundreds of vehicles, displaced nearly 100 residents and left hundreds more unemployed. Since then, there has been incredible recovery and Howard County Government is continuing its efforts to mitigate the impact of flooding in Historic Ellicott City.

Intense flooding happened again on May 27, 2018. For the latest information on current efforts regarding Old Ellicott City, visit the Ellicott City Recovery webpage.