On July 30, Tammy Beideman, owner of Sweet Elizabeth Jane, got a frantic call from her general manager, Mariah Cohee, about a flood on Main Street. Mariah told Tammy that the three employees who were closing the store that night had called and said that the walls were shaking, water was coming through the floor and apparel racks were rolling out of the store.
At the time, Tammy was at a volleyball camp with one of her daughters at American University in Washington, D.C., so she didn’t know what to say or do. She only wanted to confirm that her employees were safe, so as soon as she got the chance, she hopped on the Ellicott City Facebook group to send out messages, hoping to figure out what was going on and to learn the status of her girls.
It took a few hours, but they were able to get in touch with the three employees, which brought her a huge sense of relief.
That night, Ellicott City received nearly 6 inches of rain within the span of two hours, what the National Weather Service referred to as a 1,000-year event. This rainfall caused the Patapsco River to rise more than 13 feet, sending rushing floodwaters down Old Ellicott City’s famed Main Street.
Within a few days, Tammy and Mariah were able to get back to Main Street to see their store, which was devastated by the flood.
Although the foundation of the building remained standing, the floor, walls, front windows, and part of the roof were gone. A tree had fallen through the storefront, and all of the merchandise was destroyed.
“I knew that the business thing was going to be an issue – it was a big issue – but at that point I was still so consumed with the girls that were in the building because I just kept thinking, especially when I saw it, like ‘whoa, they were here, it was a matter of seconds and we could’ve lost three lives,'” Tammy said.
After moving past the initial shock of the event, it was time to pick up the aftermath, and that’s when Grace stepped in.
“During the recovery phase, I knew a lot of people were praying for me and I could feel it,” Tammy said. “As we moved from the recovery phase into the rebuilding phase, there were times when it felt like ‘I can’t do this.’ I never dreamed that it would be as hard as it was for as long as it has been, and I knew that God’s hand was in that.”
Members of Grace provided meals for the Beidemans every other day for nearly two months, dozens of people came to help clean out the store, and the church even provided financial support for the family who had to foot many bills for their business and tuition for their daughters’ private school.
“I think at the beginning we didn’t think we needed help,” Tammy’s husband, Brian, said. “There were people that were worse off than us, at least that’s what we felt.”
But, when they reluctantly started accepting the help, they saw God working through Grace and the people who came alongside them.
“We weren’t asking for it. The church just stepped up and did it, which is amazing,” Brian said. “It’s what you think the church would do, and the church did it above and beyond, which was absolutely amazing.”
The love that Gracers poured out to the Beidemans connected the family to the church in a new and much stronger way.
“I’m so SO thankful for the support of so many people and the community and Grace, like all together, I think it has made such a difference in our lives and in this business here, too,” Tammy said.
And beyond just impacting them personally, the Beidemans believe that Grace overwhelming generosity served as a testimony of the church to the community, who witnessed the outpouring of love on their family and the city as a whole.
With the church behind her and her family, Tammy was able to reopen Sweet Elizabeth Jane on Black Friday in a new location (at the top of the hill on Main Street). The business pushed through the holiday season, and closed up again at the end of December to give Tammy and her team a chance to make adjustments and work through some of the growing pains of restarting.
Tammy initially thought that everything would be better once she reached 2017, but she learned that it is actually much harder than she has anticipated. Now looking ahead to the one-year mark of the flood, Tammy waits expectantly for what God will continue to do through this situation.
“I really believe at that time I’m going to be able to look and really see how God has worked in us through this situation,” Tammy said. “I know I’m going to have learned a lot, but I don’t think I’m there enough to see it, I’m still in the middle, but I’m looking forward to coming all the way through, and I can see it step by step. It’s happening.”
The love, care and support that Grace showered on the Beidemans during this time pointed them to the eternal hope they have in Christ. In one of many emails sent to Grace, they expressed their gratitude:
God Works! God Works! God Works! I could never say it enough. The love we have seen and are seeing from our Grace family is second to none…. And as hard as it “seems” to be, we know there is another side, and we are so looking forward to getting to that point. My kids will tell you that one of my “life’s lessons” I say all the time is “God does EVERYTHING for a reason. You won’t know why something happens until HE wants you to know.” It’s the truth. I have seen it over and over and over again. There is ALWAYS a reason for EVERYTHING. And if we really think about it deep down in our hearts why something is happening, it’s because there is glory to God in it. He is truly amazing…. God TRULY is amazing. I’d love to tell you what God’s overall plan is for our family in this situation, but my mind is too small to see the extent of His reach…. His plans are already in process.”