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Rosapepe questions role of climate change in Ellicott City flooding

A once storm some meteorologists are dubbing a once in a thousand year event that caused massive flooding in Ellicott City Saturday could be the result of global warming.

So says state Sen. James C. Rosapepe, D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties.

“The deaths and damage caused by this weekend’s flash flood in Ellicott City, as well as the damage caused elsewhere, reminds us that climate change is about more than polar bears and the rising sea level in the Chesapeake Bay.” Rosapepe wrote in a statement two days after the storm swept through the downtown Main Street area of the historic town, destroying homes and businesses and killing two people.

The storm Saturday night dropped more than 6.5 inches in a few short hours on a area already prone to massive flooding including incidents in 2011 and 1972.

The downtown district remains closed as state and county workers attempt to clear streets of cars and debris, shore up damaged buildings.

“Did climate change kill two people in Ellicott City this weekend?” Rosapepe wrote in his statement. “We don’t know for sure, but climate is about public safety everywhere in our state. The increasing frequency of flash floods is the predictable result of climate change. When more water goes up to clouds as a result of climate change, more comes down on us.”

This is not the first time that Rosapepe has called into question the official response to a weather incident.

Earlier this year, the senator, who is co-chair of an environmental subcommittee, participated in a hearing to look at the state’s response to a storm that dumped 30-inches of snow on the area. Rosapepe called on state officials to update infrastructure in the face of what he said were becoming more frequent dramatic weather events — a call he renewed in his statement.

“The human and economic costs are real,” Rosapepe said. “We need to slow climate change and prepare better for its impacts.”