RISING SUN — Cecil County was part of a larger assessment Monday of the damage wrought by the remains of Hurricane Ida in Maryland earlier this month.
Mary Ann Tierney, Region 3 Administrator for Federal Emergency Management Agency, said areas including Rising Sun and Elkton were toured to get a look at the impact of the high winds and heavy rain.
“We rely on local officials to direct us,” Tierney said Tuesday.
She said this guided tour included officials from Maryland Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration. Among them was Michelle Lloyd, Deputy Emergency Manager for Cecil County Department of Emergency Services.
“Some were surprised by the water levels,” LLoyd said of her conversations with those affected.
Tropical Storm Ida dropped more than 6 inches of rain in some areas of the county resulting in flash flooding in all the expected locations such as East Main Street in Rising Sun, Delaware Avenue, Howard and Bridge Streets in Elkton and at Rising Sun’s Veteran’s and Triangle Parks.
Some of the worst flooding in Rising Sun was in the Sun Valley Mobile Home Park off Walnut Street next door to Triangle Park.
“We heard a noise outside,” said Sharon Edwards, a resident of the park.
She watched as the water quickly rose into the home she shares with William Hammond.
“It was waist high,” Edwards said. “It totaled my car.”
Hammond’s car was also deluged. It still runs, taking the couple to and from a local hotel that is now home. However he said all the lights on the dash are illuminated.
Hammond has lived in Sun Valley more than 20 years. He bought a newer home several years ago and had recently replaced the living room floor with parquet tiles.
“It’s all warped now,” Hammond said.
He said the owner of the home across the road from his had just about finished repairs when he was told to stop so the damage could be assessed.
Hammond, who did not have flood insurance, said this was the worst he’s seen in the small community of homes. All the homes in Sun Valley were affected, and many have been deemed uninhabitable.
Calvin Bonenberger, Rising Sun town administrator, estimates the damage to the town is more than $2 million. It’s too early to say how much the county has spent in response, Lloyd said.
“All I could offer is a ballpark figure,” she said.
MEMA is now analyzing all the data gleaned Monday and will make a report to Gov. Larry Hogan.
If Hogan decides the damage — including a tornado that touched down in the Annapolis area — warrants a disaster declaration he has until the end of the month, Tierney said.
“The request must be made within 30 days,” she said, adding that a local state of emergency declared by Cecil County Executive Danielle Hornberger made Sept. 3 supports that plan.
“The local emergency declaration is not required but it definitely indicates something has happened,” Tierney said.
Factors include the amount of damage, the history of such events and the trauma it has caused.
“We look at the number of destroyed homes, the numbers with major damage, were there any deaths or injury, and the potential for insurance recovery,” Tierney said.
The request from Hogan then goes to Pres. Joe Biden for a federal declaration, which will trigger financial assistance.
FEMA has three programs to help in recovery efforts.
“Individual assistance is for households to repair or replace. Public assistance goes to state and municipal governments and some non-profit organizations for recovery costs and repairs to infrastructure,” she said. The third is the Hazardous Mitigation Grant Program that builds certain infrastructure better to withstand future events.
The SBA, while its primary focus is small business, has a role in disaster recovery, offering low interest loans to homeowners.
“They’re an important program in our system,” Tierney said.
Kevin Alkinburg, spokesman for Cecil County government, said the county state of emergency would remain in effect until all the displaced residents are in stable housing.