Several Maryland businesses suffered heavy damage due to last week’s major storm. Annapolis was hit hard with flood waters after a 5.1-foot storm surge rolled into town. It was the worst flood since Hurricane Isabel swamped the city with a record 7.16 feet in 2003.
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley has signed a State of Emergency for the city, which will trigger grant money for businesses impacted by the floods. That money comes from Anne Arundel County’s cut of the slot machine and video lottery terminal revenue at Live! Casino Maryland.
Affected businesses can request a portion of a $50,000 pot of relief money
Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland is one of six brick-and-mortar Maryland casinos. It’s located in Hanover right in the heart of Annapolis. It has also consistently been one of the highest-grossing casinos in the state.
In 2023, Live! Casino made over $502.4 million on slot games. Over $27.6 million of that total went toward local impact grants. With a State of Emergency issued in Annapolis, city businesses will be eligible for up to $50,000 each in grants. These grants will help repair property damage, replace equipment and cover lost income.
“We know that they’re veterans at this, but I think this one hurt particularly bad. We want to make sure we get them back on their feet as soon as possible,” Buckley said. “This water that brings so many people here is one of our greatest assets, one of our biggest economic drivers. But also, it’s one of our greatest threats.”
At least 17 businesses shut down due to flood damage
Many Annapolis businesses found red closure signs posted on their doors. At least 17 flooded businesses were declared “unfit for human habitation” by inspectors. Some say they came without a warning, calling the signs threatening and confusing.
Inspectors must ensure each shutdown business is disinfected properly before reopening. Officials think the floodwater may have mixed with sewage, making the buildings unsafe for customers until it is cleaned. Not every closed business had sewage contamination, but inspectors have to sign off before reopening just in case.
The Anne Arundel County Department of Health conducts the first inspection. Afterward, the City of Annapolis Department of Planning and Zoning, which posts the closure signs, removes them.
Mayor Buckley says he understands the closures have frustrated business owners, but safety is his top priority.
“We have to make sure that the buildings are safe for the public,” Buckley said. “We’re doing everything we can to expedite any inspections or anything that people need. As soon as people have told me they’ve passed their health inspection, we’ve had our inspectors in there straight away to take the signs away.”