How climate change harmed Ellicott City and me

It’s been raining heavily lately where I live in Hyattsville, Maryland. In the week of June 23rd, it rained almost all week. Couple weeks ago, while on the metro, I received a warning on my phone that there would be a flash flood in my area. So I called my mom and told her to stay alert.

While I knew it would rain a lot, I hoped it would not be as much as in Ellicott City. Just a couple months ago, this city faced life-changing floods in a devastating climate change event. It started raining in the old historic city on May 27 around at 3:15 pm. It continued on raining and raining for days, until the streets of Ellicott City were flooded with strong rushing waters. Cars were pulled away by the waters. The floods destroyed and damaged countless stores, homes, restaurants, and even one person’s life.

During the floods, a woman named Kate Bowman was in need of safety from her flooded store — along with her cat. She was on a window, screaming and ready to jump out. At that moment, National Guardsman, Eddison Hermond, noticed her and without thinking twice he started to try and help. He told Kate to calm down, just as he said that, according to Kate, he slipped and the rushing waters took him. His body was found two days later.

This isn’t Ellicott City’s first time experiencing a devastating flood. Just two years ago, the city was deluged with 6.6 inches of rain, again damaging stores, restaurants, and homes. The 2016 flood killed two individuals. They were found in their cars on the Baltimore Side of the river.

Both the floods in 2016 and in 2018 were ”one-in-a-thousand year” rain events — meaning the rain was so intense that the chances of this happening should only happen once in a thousand years. At least in a normal world.

But we’re not in a normal world. We are now living in a world that has been changed by global warming. And the main factor of the problem is us. We burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, which stay in the atmosphere and make it so heat can’t escape from the Earth — much like a greenhouse, which is why they are called greenhouse gases. Because of that, we make the Earth warmer each year. The warmer the Earth is, the more water gets evaporated. And the warmer the air is, the more water it can hold in its clouds. The more evaporation and clouds, the more rain and floods. Basic science!

While I have never experienced something just as damaging as Ellicott City, I have lived through floods. In 2015, my family moved to our first house in Hyattsville from our apartment. One night at 11:00pm it started raining really hard. We had been told by our new neighbors that water would flood their basement when it rains really hard, so my sister and I woke my parents up and we went to our basement to check. We checked out the door that goes to the backyard to see if water was coming in. There was nothing. But just as we turned around to go back to sleep I see water flowing in under the door. We were completely unprepared.

Climate change affects us even if we don’t see it. We are the cause of climate change. We have damaged the ocean waters, forests, even the air. This cannot continue on. If we don’t act now then the future generations of 100 years from now probably won’t even know what a polar bear is!

Luckily, we are not helpless in this fight against climate change. You can take action today by signing CCAN’s petition in Maryland to move away from fossil fuels by doubling wind and solar power. This will put us on track to achieve a future powered by 100 clean, renewable energy, and livable streets. And, hopefully, no more flooded basements!

 

Featured Imaged from: Flicker User Todd.