Michael and Denise Warshauer keep a dozen sandbags in front of their garage, knowing that thunderstorms can wash away their yard and flood their North Laurel home.
"The county needs to fix the drainage problem," Mrs. Warshauer said. "We can't go through many more rains."
Although county environmental engineers have promised to begin working on drainage in parts of North Laurel this spring, the Warshauers and their neighbors on Cissel Avenue fear their flooding problems won't be remedied until 1996 or later.
Steve Sharar, project manager for the county's Roads, Bridges and Storm Drainage Division, said the county would look at the drainage problem on Cissel Avenue to determine whether it could be added to plans already approved.
If not, the Cissel Avenue residents will have to wait.
Part of the problem is that some land behind homes on Cissel Avenue has been identified by the state Department of Natural Resources as wetlands. That means the county must draft a drainage plan that also would protect the wetlands, or prove that it is necessary to harm the wetlands to correct flooding on Cissel Avenue.
"We're going to take a look at it," Mr. Sharar said. "We know that something needs to be done."
Last week, Mr. Sharar told North Laurel residents that in the spring, the county will start a North Laurel storm drainage project along Madison Avenue and Decatur and Fourth streets. That will take about a year to complete, he said.
The county also plans to add drainage and sidewalks along North Laurel Road and Baltimore Avenue, a project that will begin in late spring or early summer and take six months to complete.
If engineers can't add the Cissel Avenue drainage work to the existing plans, the work will be put off until at least the fiscal year that begins July 1, 1995, Mr. Sharar said.
Local residents and politicians say that would be too long a wait.
"This is a long-standing problem, and the community definitely is not satisfied," said newly elected County Councilman Dennis R. Schrader, who represents the North Laurel area. "This is something that I'm tracking. I'm not happy with what I've heard."
Residents on Cissel Avenue say they need immediate relief. They now depend on ditches and a single 3-foot-square drain to clear rain water that washes down their street. The ditches and drain feed into a 12-inch pipe that runs alongside the Warshauers' home.
Water from the pipe, which the county says should be 15 inches wide, flows into a stream behind some of the houses. The system is unable to handle the volume of water that runs off yards and streets during even moderate rains.
As a result, the ditches overflow, and the single drain on the quarter-mile-long street backs up at least once a month, causing water to flood garages and cellars and erode yards.
"There is no real defined pattern for the water to go," Mr. Warshauer said. "There were a couple of times I would be out there at 1 and 2 o'clock in the morning trying to stop the water."
Other neighbors have similar problems.
"When a storm comes, our street goes under water," said Donna Thewes, a Cissel Avenue resident. "Water comes in every direction."
The Warshauers are worse off than others on their street because their lot slopes, drawing the flow into their yard in little streams. Last winter, the Warshauers had to rent a pump to clear the nearly 6-inch-deep pool of water from their cellar.