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Ellicott City flood victims get into homes and businesses, 10 minutes at a time

Workers gather by street damage after Saturday night's flooding in Ellicott City, Md., Sunday, July 31, 2016. Historic, low-lying Ellicott City, Maryland, was ravaged by floodwaters Saturday night, killing a few people and causing devastating damage to homes and businesses, officials said. (Kevin Rector/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Workers gather by street damage after Saturday night’s flooding in Ellicott City, Md., Sunday, July 31, 2016.  (Kevin Rector/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

With recovery efforts still underway and concerns about the structural deficiency of some buildings, people with homes and businesses on Ellicott City’s Main Street are slowly being allowed back in — for 10 minutes at a time.

Due to the number of people waiting for access and the need for them to be escorted by trained personnel, that is the maximum amount of time that can be provided to each person, said Howard County Public Information Officer Mark Miller.

Officials started letting people into the closed-off area Thursday afternoon and said they will continue escorting people until 7:30 p.m.

Dave Carney, owner of The Wine Bin, was one of the few lucky ones whose business was not damaged. There was a little flooding in the basement, which was empty. Carney was given around 15 minutes to go in and grab cash from the register and other items earlier this week.

While Carney is eager to get his business up and running again, he has to wait for the county to get a handle on the situation.

“They’re just overwhelmed at this point,” said Carney.

The Wine Bin has been on Main Street for eight years. When news of the flooding broke Sunday morning, Carney was bombarded with hundreds of text messages from people asking if everything was okay.

“It’s an amazing community,” he said.

John Shoemaker of Shoemaker Country has also only been inside his Main Street furniture store once this week for 10 to 15 minutes. The first floor of his two-story shop is in “bad shape,” said Shoemaker, adding that he hopes mold doesn’t get to the second floor.

He’s filling orders from his home until he can get back into his store.

“Just trying to put the business back together,” he said.

Howard County is directing cash donations to United Way of Central Maryland. Donate by texting the keyword “ECStrong” to 51555 or go online. United Way announced Thursday afternoon that it has raised more than $110,000 from local corporations and more than 700 individual donors. All proceeds received through the ECStrong Fund will go toward relief efforts for flood victims, United Way said in a press release.