'It's Our Entire Lives': Flood Relief Money Unlocked For Annapolis Businesses

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Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley speaks at a Friday press conference declaring a state of emergency. This week’s 5.1-foot storm surge damaged downtown businesses, including Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory, seen in the background. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

Last updated Friday at 5:18 p.m. 

ANNAPOLIS, MD - Annapolis declared a state of emergency Friday to access disaster relief resources for businesses that flooded this week.

City businesses will be eligible for up to $50,000 each in grants.

This money will help repair property damage, replace equipment and cover lost income.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley (D) thanked the affected businesses for their patience and acknowledged their struggles.

"We know that they're veterans at this, but I think this one hurt particularly bad," Buckley said at a Friday press conference announcing the state of emergency. "We want to make sure we get them back on their feet as soon as possible."

Several businesses are still closed for repairs. The businesses were inundated with a 5.1-foot storm surge on Tuesday and Wednesday. That was the city's third-worst flood on record. It was also the worst since Hurricane Isabel dumped a 7.16-foot storm surge in 2003.

Related: Worst Flood Since Hurricane Isabel Slams MD: See Photos

"This water that brings so many people here is one of our greatest assets, one of our biggest economic drivers," Buckley said. "But also, it's one of our greatest threats. We saw that on Tuesday."

Businesses Closed For Repairs

These establishments, among others, were still closed on Friday:

  • Armadillo's Bar & Grill
  • Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory
  • Bitty & Beau's Coffee
  • Moe's Southwest Grill
  • Eagle Souvenir
  • Pip's Dock Street Dogs
  • Every shop in Harbour Square
  • Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park

Each establishment plans to make repairs and reopen as soon as possible.

Pip's Dock Street Dogs had about 2.5 feet of water inside. The flood destroyed half the eatery's equipment, causing $10,000 to $12,000 in damage. The fryer, sandwich stations and ice machine are all gone.

Owner Ryan Lamy said the grants are a "huge burden lifted off of us."

"We've got employees that depend on us. We put everything we have into these businesses," Lamy said. "It's a lot to deal with. It's our entire lives." 

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How It's Funded

The relief grants come from a slot machine tax at Maryland casinos. That revenue replenishes the Video Lottery Terminal Fund and supplies the VOLT Disaster Recovery Relief Program.

The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation distributes the funding.

In normal times, businesses can get low-interest loans of $25,000 to $500,000 through VOLT funding. 

VOLT relief grants were previously only available during a statewide state of emergency. 

That was a problem in 2021 when a tornado and severe flooding rocked Annapolis. These disasters damaged businesses, but they weren't widespread enough to warrant a statewide state of emergency. That left businesses waiting for relief funding.

The problem was fixed last legislative session. Lawmakers created a provision letting businesses get VOLT relief grants after natural disasters that cause a local state of emergency.

AAEDC President and CEO Amy Gowan credited Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-District 30) and Del. Dana Jones (D-District 30A) for this policy change.

"Thank you so much to Sen. Elfreth and Del. Jones for their leadership last session to make the state's Video Lottery Terminal funds available for disaster situations like this," Gowan said. "Our organization is nimble and can deploy them quickly."

Elfreth said this exception was only made for disasters in Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis. 

The senator thinks other counties should also get this benefit. She would be willing to work with other districts on legislation to make this change.

"We cannot hold back the tide, but we can be more responsive to our neighbors on their worst days," Elfreth said.  

More information on the grants is posted here.

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