Harford Week

July 18, 2004

Ehrlich declares limited emergency after flooding

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. declared a limited state of emergency Wednesday in Cecil and Harford counties after floods last week damaged roads and homes.

The two counties asked for assistance after a raging thunderstorm Monday caused creeks and streams to overflow and flood towns in the northeastern part of the state.

The declaration mobilizes the state National Guard to help residents. State agencies will also help residents and business owners affected by the flooding. Assistance will be coordinated by the State Emergency Operations Center in Reisterstown.

The declaration is also a first step for a possible request for federal assistance.

Dozens of families and shopkeepers in North East were cleaning up.

The normally docile waterways that lace North East rose quickly Monday afternoon, as storms dumped up to 8 inches of rain on the region in a few hours.

"All those little creeks became major rivers. It was going so fast," said North East Police Chief Darrell Hamilton, whose basement flooded. "I never saw water do that much destruction in my life in this town."

By Tuesday afternoon, most of the northeastern Maryland roads blocked by floods were reopened as waters receded, emergency officials said. But traffic moved slowly through North East, as drivers avoided chunks of asphalt dislodged by racing water. Water filled the deep ditches dug for a continuing streetscape project.

County engineers walked the streets Tuesday morning assessing damage. Officials condemned a handful of homes, Hamilton said, including one on Main Street that stood on a fragile shelf of dirt after its foundation was washed away.

About 35 people stayed overnight in the North East fire hall. Red Cross reported that about 60 homes were damaged by water in North East, which saw the worst of the damage in Cecil County. In Port Deposit, also in Cecil County, Rock Run surged onto Main Street and water rose as deep as 5 feet.

About 20 homes in neighboring Harford County were damaged, mostly by basement flooding, said Ruth Tyler, spokeswoman for the central Maryland chapter of the American Red Cross.

Ernie Crist, manager of Harford County emergency operations, said major roads were open in his county by Tuesday morning.

"We still have some minor flooding in places but the waters have pretty much subsided," Crist said.

The county responded to nine water rescues for people in cars and on foot, Crist said. The county received 63 calls for flooded basements.

Some motorists had to be rescued when their cars became stranded in deep water, but no injuries were reported.

U.S. 40 from Aberdeen to Havre de Grace was closed for several hours.

Amtrak officials reported delays on dozens of passenger trains between Washington and Philadelphia throughout Monday. Poor visibility and high water flowing over the tracks forced trains in both directions to slow to 2 mph at many locations, Amtrak spokesman Daniel Stessel said. The worst water problems occurred at Marcus Hook, Pa., about 3 p.m. and Levittown, Pa., about 7 p.m., Stessel said. Signal problems caused by fallen trees on the overhead lines forced officials to halt rail traffic in both directions at Wilmington, Del., between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Three trains were canceled during the day.

Aberdeen man killed in car accident

An Aberdeen man died July 11 after his car hit a tree, police said.

Thomas Connor Morris, 50, of the 400 block in Devonshire Court was traveling west on Route 22 about 3:30 p.m. July 10 at a high rate of speed, according to police.

He struck a curb and a tree, police said.

Morris was trapped inside the vehicle. After being freed, he was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, according to police. He died at 2:15 a.m. Sunday.

6 road repair projects under way in county

Six road repair projects are listed on Harford County's Road Closure Status Report.

Red Pump Road: The culvert replacement work continues on Red Pump Road between Route 24 and Vale Road in Bel Air. The project is expected to be completed this month.

Abingdon Road: Reconstruction between Blue Silver Road and Box Hill South Parkway in Abingdon is to be completed next month.

Moores Mill Road: Utility relocation is to be completed between Econ Drive and Broadway in Bel Air next month.

Old Joppa and Franklinville roads: Intersection reconstruction in Joppa is to be completed next month.

Harmony Church Road: Bridge repairs between Route 136 and Nobles Mill Road in Darlington are expected to be finished in September.

Old Joppa Road: will be closed between Business U.S. 1 and Whitaker Mill Road in Fallston from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Thursday for about two weeks for tree removal and road widening.

Ecotone names Alder to conservation post

Ecotone Inc., an environmental consulting company based in Jarrettsville, has named Ben Alder as director of conservation services.

Alder has seven years of experience in natural resource conservation, most recently in habitat restoration projects throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Company donates equipment to school

Smiths Detection, a Harford County company that specializes in trace detection technology for homeland security and Department of Defense detection applications, recently donated more than $25,000 of electronic parts to Harford Technical High School.

The parts, which include circuit boards, cables and miniature cooling fans, will be used to teach students to build and repair computers and other electronic equipment.

"In our process of disposing of excess electronic equipment, we discovered that we had a great opportunity to give back to the community," said Smiths Detection Training Manager Barbara Langmead. "We appreciate the opportunities we have in Harford County and are always interested in developing relationships with neighboring businesses and educational institutions."

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