Howard Magazine - Page 40 - Helping Hands (4)

Howard Magazine
- Page 40
Helping Hands (4)
lowing the flood.

“They took stations that we didn’t use. They transferred all their calls to a cellphone. They set up their reception next to ours. It’s been great,” he says.

Whittaker, who opened his doors to businesses during the flood in 2016, says it was a no-brainer to assist again this year. “They risked the chance of going out of business,” he explains. “I would hope that if I was in that situation someone would help me out.”

Raising funds

Though flood relief donations haven’t hit the levels they reached following the 2016 disaster, money is still pouring in, community groups say.

The Community Foundation of Howard County, the lead organization for raising and distributing funds, had collected $400,000 at press time. The Ellicott City Partnership had received less than half of the $1.85 million donated following the 2016 flood, according to executive director Maureen Sweeney Smith.

“It’s way behind where we were in 2016. I imagine there’s some people who are reluctant to give this time around. I imagine some people are wondering why give their money if it is going to [flood] again,” she says.

Sweeney Smith declined to share an exact figure but noted that the county has been directing donors to the Community Foundation this time around.

“Whether the money goes to Howard County or goes here, we are working as one,” she says.

One of the biggest donations to the Ellicott City Partnership came from MileOne Autogroup, whose Heritage Toyota Catonsville teamed with Ellicott City Partnership to relaunch Back On The Road, a $50,000 initiative that provides support to the those who lost their vehicles in the flood. Nearly 200 suffered significant damage or were destroyed, according to County Executive Allan H. Kittleman.

“We helped years ago. We were anxious to help this year. We want other businesses and people to get back up and running,” says Mark Westerman, chief marketing officer for MileOne Autogroup.

Aside from the official funds, a number of businesses used the crowdsourcing platform GoFundMe to get back on their feet. Many have fallen short of their goals, but still collected thousands of dollars.

Su Casa, a home decor store which has been in Ellicott City since 2000, had raised $6,431 of its $150,000 GoFundMe goal at press time. The business also raised an additional $3,000 from private donations, according to owner Nick Johnson.

Those funds have helped Johnson keep everyone on staff. He also credited a quick cleanup of his 4,500-square-foot space by his landlord for an anticipated reopening in mid-July.