Extreme flooding in Ellicott City
Ellicott City flooding (Photo credit: Storyful video screen capture)

Kristen Rigney was ready for rain on her wedding day.

Rigney: “I had planned and I had ordered cute umbrellas for the bridesmaids for our photos.”

But she did not anticipate the flash flood that struck Ellicott City, Maryland, just before her ceremony was set to begin last May.

Rigney: “Our coordinator throws open the door and goes ‘We’re evacuating! Get everything! Get out! We got to get out!’”

For hours, Rigney and her guests hurried from place to place to stay safe. First, they went upstairs where she and her groom managed to exchange vows in a Mexican restaurant. Then, some guests evacuated to a liquor store. Others ran up a hillside and huddled on porches.

Rigney: “I was kind of just in survival mode.”

As the climate warms, rain storms are intensifying. In Maryland and the Northeast, the amount of rain that falls during the most extreme storms has increased by more than 70% since the 1950s.

The effects can be devastating. In Ellicott City that day, the flood destroyed homes and businesses. One man was killed.

Rigney: “We lost a lot of food and cars and people lost their fancy clothes, but the people who actually live in Ellicott City lost so much more.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...