Storm Bros. Ice Cream saw 32 inches of water inside their shop, forcing them to close for weeks. Photo: James Ronayne

Annapolis State of Emergency Declared As Flood Damage Shuts Down Businesses

The storm the mid-Atlantic experienced on Jan. 9-10 has made history in downtown Annapolis, and not in a good way. Two days later, the Mayor of Annapolis declared a City State of Emergency to give damaged businesses and nonprofits access to disaster recovery grants.

The floodwater that submerged the streets around City Dock crept past sandbags into local small businesses and organizations. At the peak of the storm surge, flooding reached 5.1 feet above normal, making it the third worst flood in Annapolis history.

The worst flooding came during Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and the second-worst was way back in August 1933, during a hurricane NOAA refers to as the “Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane”.

That was well before even the long-running Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory was established at City Dock. Storm Bros. is used to coastal flooding lapping at its door, and takes steps to prevent damage inside. But this time the storm proved too much.

In a Facebook post, the company writes, “In the 48 years we have been in business on the City Dock in Annapolis, we have endured many floods. Most of the time we have been able to successfully protect our business using our front door barricade and our pumps. Yesterday’s flood was the fourth time we have lost the battle and suffered a total loss…We were doing well [Tuesday] night until the power outage rendered our pumps useless. We ended up with 32 inches of water in the store which was enough to wipe us out. We will get to work and hopefully get back open in a few weeks.”

Storm Bros. isn’t the only City Dock business crippled by the damage. Armadillos Bar & Grill announced Friday afternoon that it would remain closed through the weekend—what must be a blow to a bar that normally does brisk business on Friday and Saturday night and a Sunday of playoff football.

Hot dog shop Pip’s Dock Street Dogs says it is closed “for the unforeseeable future,” having sustained “quite a bit of damage and equipment loss due to the flooding.”

In Eastport, the Annapolis Maritime Museum took in 18 inches of water into the building. Because they had dedicated staff and volunteers hurrying to move exhibits to higher ground before the storm, the museum says most things were protected and elevated. It, too, will remain closed for cleanup and repairs until further notice.

All of these issues will fall under Mayor Gavin Buckley’s State of Emergency, making those establishments eligible for grants. It will allow them to apply for the VOLT Disaster Recovery Grant Program through the Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp. The grant program is there to help businesses recover from the damage and lost business after storm and coastal flooding events.

Eligible businesses and nonprofits can apply for grants up to $50,000 for uses like repairing physical property, replacing equipment, offsetting loss of income from damage-related closures, and replacing damaged inventory.

“When unexpected events like this occur, business owners often have to wait many weeks, or even months, to receive any level of funding,” said AAEDC President & CEO Amy Gowan. We know that this wait can truly make or break many small businesses, so the goal of this program and of our team is to provide them with critical recovery funding as quickly as possible.”

Small businesses and nonprofits must submit an application with tax returns, photos and information on the damage, a budget for using grant money, and other forms and requirements. They must have a brick-and-mortar location in the City of Annapolis and be in good standing with the State of Maryland. Applications will be accepted starting Jan. 16, 2024.

Mayor Buckley says, “people don’t see how those floodwaters impact businesses, especially small businesses. Floodwaters are extremely damaging and can include fuel, debris, and even raw sewage. Floodwaters can seriously damage infrastructure. It is costly to recover from a storm like this and we are grateful to county and state officials for helping Maryland’s capital city get local, small businesses back on their feet as quickly as possible.” 

For more information about the program or to access the application, visit the VOLT Disaster Recovery Grant Program page on the AAEDC website. For additional information, inquiries can be sent to Stephen Primosch at [email protected].