Series of thunderstorms drenches area Many roads flooded, 14,000 lose electricity

June 18, 1996|By Richard Irwin and John Rivera | Richard Irwin and John Rivera,SUN STAFF

A series of thunderstorms battered parts of the Baltimore area last night, flooding streets and basements, downing trees and trapping motorists.

Northeastern and eastern Baltimore City and from Pikesville to White Marsh in Baltimore County appeared to be the areas hardest hit.

Police and firefighters responded to calls from stranded motorists and for flooded basements and downed trees that threatened power lines.

"You needed an ark to get around," said one county officer.

No injuries were reported.

At Loch Raven Boulevard and Meridene Drive in Baltimore, rain flooded the intersection, trapping several motorists in their cars for several minutes before police and firefighters rescued them.

One of those motorists was Stacey Kraft, 24. She was driving south on Loch Raven Boulevard, coming home from a part-time job at Staples when she saw the high water at Cedarcroft Road. She slammed on her brakes but with other cars behind her, there was no place to back up.

"I was trying to get them to back up but they wouldn't move. The next thing I know, I'm starting to move," she said "The car spun around once and then I just started floating."

Her car drifted a block to Meridene Drive, where it was sucked to the bottom of the flooded intersection by a storm drain. "It was like a whirlpool," she said.

Water pressure kept her doors tightly shut. She tried to call 911 with her car phone, but it had shorted out. And water was rapidly filling her car.

"It got up to about my neck. I couldn't find my keys. They floated away," she said. "I finally found my keys and stuck them in the ignition and hoped for the best. I finally got my sunroof open so I could get out of the car."

The water eventually covered the car.

Early today, a shaken Kraft, who lives just a couple blocks from the flooded intersection, said she was feeling pretty lucky. "I don't care if my car was totaled. At least I have my life."

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman Angela Walters said the storm knocked out power to at least 13,800 customers, including 6,480 in Baltimore. Service was expected to be restored this morning.

The heavy rain and lightning twice delayed and then forced postponement of the baseball game between the Orioles and the Texas Rangers.

As of 11: 18 p.m., the National Weather Service reported that 3.10 inches of rain had fallen at Owings Mills and 3.20 inches in Baltimore.

Amet Figueroa, a National Weather Service forecaster at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, said the slow-moving, eastbound storms struck about 9 p.m.

More thunderstorms were forecast through Saturday.

City police reported a number of flooded streets as debris blocked storm drains. City public works crews were dispatched to unclog the drains.

Baltimore County fire and police were busy as well. "It's generating an enormous amount of calls," said Baltimore County Fire Capt. Stephen Gisriel. "In the last 20 minutes, we've had five calls to rescue stranded motorists."

For about three hours, Baltimore police and fire dispatchers sent units to flooded homes and to assist stranded motorists, mostly in the city's northeast section.

Police reported that an unoccupied car was floating along the 2600 block of Hudson St. in Highlandtown.

Hundreds of low-lying intersections were flooded, most of them in the northeast and eastern sections of the city.

Centre Street as it crosses under the Jones Falls Expressway was under more than a foot of water.

In the 3800 block of Bayonne Ave., water from clogged storm drains poured into homes, rising from the basement to the first floor. Residents, some of them carrying possessions, fled into the streets.

Three feet of water was reported at Orleans Street and Kenwood Avenue, making travel impossible.

At least four cars and a city Fire Department ambulance were reported submerged and abandoned at Pulaski Highway and Monument Street, a location that often is flooded during heavy storms.

Pub Date: 6/18/96

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