Mass of support planned for Maryland town hit hard again by massive flood

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA

By Paul McMullen

second time in three years, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore will
celebrate a Mass at St. Paul Church in the historic town of Ellicott City, where
residents are again taking stock after another devastating flash flood.

Weekend worship for the feast of
the Most Holy Trinity had concluded by the afternoon of May 27, when sustained,
torrential rains turned Main Street below the church into a raging river that
washed away automobiles, buildings and human life — just as it had July 31,

Archbishop Lori will celebrate Mass
June 2 at St. Paul, which was established in 1838, 66 years after the mill
and railroad town was founded at was then a strategic location along the
Patapsco River.

St. Paul is situated relatively
safely above the Main Street thoroughfare, which once again produced reminders
of the destructive power of nature, documented on social media as many prepared
to observe Memorial Day.

A courthouse that dated to 1840
was among the structures destroyed in the historic town, which is part of the
Baltimore metropolitan area and the county seat of Howard County.

Eddison Hermond, a National
Guardsman from Severn, was enjoying lunch with friends when he went to the aid
of a woman and was washed away, toward the Patapsco. Two days later, search and
rescue teams located his body on the Baltimore County side of the river.

After the flash flood of 2016,
St. Paul served as an emergency shelter. According to Father Warren Tanghe,
pastor, the loss of water to all of its buildings and power in some of them
precluded it from serving that function this time.

“Our facilities are not suitable
for community service,” Father Tanghe said May 28 in an interview with the Catholic
Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan news outlet.

A day later, he reported that
“all our buildings now have power and water, and our electronics are up.”

St. Paul is being used as a
staging area for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. crews that are restoring

The flood was felt at
Resurrection-St. Paul School, north of old Ellicott City. According to Karen
Murphy, principal, one of her teachers “lost” his residence on Main Street.

“I have eight other staff
members and dozens of families who bailed out basements this weekend, but are
grateful that’s all they had to do,” Murphy said. “Our theme this year has been
‘Be Strong, Be Courageous.’ … That’s appropriate for right now.”

To the north of downtown
Ellicott City, the Our Lady’s Center Marian Shrine was closed Memorial Day for
what a message on its website described as “some cleaning of debris,” but noted
that it “escaped damage” thanks to improvements made to its grounds after the
2016 flood.

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McMullen is managing editor of
the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of

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