Skip to Main Content

Weather It Together: Protecting Maryland's Historic Buildings from Floods

May 25, 2017, 8:00 am to 5:30 pm

The MHT hosted a day-long workshop on flooding and historic buildings in May 2017. The program covered how to plan for nuisance flooding and flood events, discussed professional perspectives on flood mitigation and adaptation, and shared tools and resources that you can use in your own community. Local planners, emergency management personnel, historic preservation organizations and interested citizens were encouraged to attend.

This workshop was generously supported by the National Park Service through the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund. Special thanks to the City of Annapolis for permission to use Weather It Together statewide.

» Final Agenda and Speaker Bios

Topics and Presenters


Elizabeth Hughes, Director and State Historic Preservation Officer, Maryland Historical Trust


Nell Ziehl, Chief, Office of Planning, Education and Outreach, Maryland Historical Trust

» Link to Presentation: Nell Ziehl — MHT Weather It Together Overview

Flood Insurance

Kevin Wagner, State NFIP Program, Maryland Department of the Environment

Kristin Baja, Office of Sustainability, Baltimore City

Lauren Schiszik, Commission for Historic and Architectural Preservation, Baltimore City

Summary: This session begins with a primer on the National Flood Insurance Program and the Community Rating System, focusing on how historic properties are treated under floodplain regulations and how these programs are implemented in Maryland. Staff from the City of Baltimore will provide a local government's perspective on having achieved a class 5 rating under the Community Rating System by implementing higher standards than the federal or state model floodplain ordinance, and what that means for balancing preservation and flood protection for the City's historic properties. Q&A will close out the session.

» Link to Presentation: Kevin Wagner — Historic Structures and the National Flood Insurance Program

» Link to Presentation: Kristin Baja and Lauren Schiszik — City of Baltimore, Historic Structures in a Changing Climate

» FEMA Fact Sheet: Historic Structures and the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012

Hazard Mitigation Planning

Aftermath of Ellicott City flooding, 2016. Click to enlarge.

Chas Eby, Maryland Emergency Management Agency

Jen Sparenberg, Hazard Mitigation Officer, Maryland Historical Trust

Miguel Salinas, Assistant Planning Officer, Talbot County

Lisa Craig, Chief of Historic Preservation, City of Annapolis

Summary: The Maryland Emergency Management Agency will provide an overview of their role in hazard mitigation planning, how the state hazard mitigation plan relates to local plans, and how these plans relate to historic preservation. The Maryland Historical Trust's Hazard Mitigation Officer will discuss MHT's approach to hazard mitigation planning and how we can help local governments through technical assistance. Providing a local perspective, staff from Talbot County will discuss their approach to incorporating historic properties into the County's hazard mitigation plan, and staff from the City of Annapolis will describe the intensive public outreach component of the City's Weather It Together project, which will result in a hazard mitigation plan specific to cultural resources.

» Link to Presentation: Chas Eby — Incorporating Historic Building Preservation into Disaster Risk Reduction and Hazard Mitigation

» Link to Presentation: Miguel Salinas — Talbot County Historic Resources Survey

» Link to Presentation: Lisa Craig — Cultural Resource Hazard Mitigation Plan, Annapolis Model

Planning and Mitigation: The Army Corps Perspective

Stacey Underwood, Floodplain Management Services Program Manager, Planning Division, Baltimore District, USACE

Eva Falls, Archeologist, Planning Division, Baltimore District, USACE

Ray Tracy, Civil Engineer, Engineering Division, Baltimore District, USACE

Summary: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Floodplain Management Services Program authorizes the Corps to provide planning-level technical assistance and analyses to federal, state and local agencies on flooding and floodplain management. Numerous studies have been conducted and others are currently underway in Maryland communities that experience flooding and property damage. These studies investigate threats, evaluate alternatives and develop risk management plans for flood-prone communities. Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District will discuss flood-proofing techniques, recent and ongoing flood-proofing studies (including the Historic Ellicott City study underway), study challenges, the role of the Army Corps, and how the Corps is an important resource for local governments and communities striving to reduce their flood risk and protect their cultural resources.

» Link to Presentation: Stacey Underwood — USACE and Flood Risk Management

Response and Recovery: Focus on Ellicott City

Ellicott City flooding, affected historic resources. Click to enlarge.

Ryan Miller, Director, Office of Emergency Management, Howard County

Beth Burgess, Chief, Resource Conservation Division, Howard County

Heather Barrett, Administrator of Research & Survey, Maryland Historical Trust

Renée Novak, Field Director (Ellicott City), Preservation Maryland

Summary: This session will focus on lessons learned from the July 30, 2016 flood in Ellicott City – from initial responses to the disaster to the continued recovery and rebuilding of historic Main Street. Speakers from Howard County, the Maryland Historical Trust, and Preservation Maryland will discuss their roles in the response and recovery of one of Maryland's most significant historic districts. Learn how Ellicott City can direct emergency management planning efforts and inform our responses to future weather-related events in other communities.

» Link to Presentation: Ryan Miller — Ellicott City Flood-Emergency Management Perspective

» Link to Presentation: Beth Burgess — Ellicott City Flood-Historic Preservation Perspective

» Link to Presentation: Heather Barrett — Ellicott City Flood-MHT Perspective

» Link to Presentation: Renée Novak — Ellicott City Flood-Preservation Maryland Technical Assistance

Mitigation and Adaptation

Dominique M. Hawkins, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, Partner & Managing Principal, Preservation Design Partnership, LLC, Philadelphia

Summary: The State of Maryland, with its extensive tidal shoreline, riverine shorelines and watersheds, is highly vulnerable to flooding from rising seas, subsidence, coastal storms, flash flooding, riverine flooding and stormwater runoff. Historic communities, often developed near waterways, are particularly vulnerable to flooding. The Maryland Historical Trust contracted with Preservation Design Partnership, LLC to produce a guide to help citizens and local officials engage in the local and state emergency management process, as well as help them consider planning options and potential design solutions. This presentation will explore ways to sensitively reduce the flood threat to historic properties, as well as longer-term considerations for communities facing repetitive loss.

» Link to Presentation: Dominique Hawkins — Mitigation and Adaptation