Saturday, August 6, 2016

Ellicott City Flooding

George Stewart's US 40 photo.
This past Sunday was the Tenth Sunday after Trinity. When I wrote about it a couple years ago, St. Louis was dealing with the immediate aftermath of Michael Brown's death, and I also wrote about Bach's cantatas for that Sunday. The scriptures that Bach used had to do with the destruction of Jerusalem, and I wrote about the idea and reality of a city in crisis. Bach himself knew cities in crisis, and probably had in mind German towns that had been destroyed in the Thirty Years War.

This past week, I started hearing reports of the flooding in Ellicott City, MD. Six and a half inches of rain fell in the area this town, west of Baltimore, with flood waters destroying or damaging many buildings, and two people died. Sewage also spilled into the Patapsco River.

Ellicott City is a charming, hilly community that dates from 1772. It was an important place on the National Road, and the main drag through town, MD 144, was an earlier path of the nearby U.S. 40. (The town was featured in George Stewart's classic 1953 book about Highway 40). Here is the local website with information: I visited the town in the early 1980s. I remember strolling around the pleasant shops barefoot, having decided to kick off my heavy fisherman's sandals in the car, and I bought my dad an antique Brownie camera in an antique store, plus a biography of H. L. Mencken, who had spent some of his childhood in that town.

Crises do shake places that we love, both our home locations and places that shine in memory. Here is a link about the disaster and ways to contribute: I made a donation.

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