Ivan rumbles through Md., killing two

Remnants of hurricane damage homes and leave thousands without power

Flooding expected to continue

September 19, 2004|By Julie Bykowicz and Sarah Schaffer | Julie Bykowicz and Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

Tornadoes and storms spawned by the remnants of Hurricane Ivan tore through Maryland early yesterday, killing two women in Cecil County, causing flooding in Western Maryland and damaging 40 buildings in Frederick County, state emergency officials said.

In Harford County, a suspected tornado yesterday morning ripped two mobile homes from their foundations -- with people still inside. Those five residents had minor injuries, fire officials said.

The National Hurricane Center said Ivan had moved off the Mid-Atlantic coast by yesterday evening but had left behind the potential for more flooding in downstream areas in Maryland and other states. Residents along part of the Susquehanna River were told to prepare for voluntary evacuations today.

The storms left 18,000 customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. without power at the peak of outages yesterday afternoon, said a spokeswoman for the utility. At 9 p.m., about 5,200 customers were still without power.

Ivan made landfall early Thursday along the Gulf Coast and swept across the South and up the East Coast, killing 45 people. Utility companies said more than 1.1 million homes and businesses from Florida to Pennsylvania still had no electricity yesterday.

President Bush declared disaster areas yesterday in Georgia and North Carolina, where the storm caused heavy flooding in some areas and at least 12 deaths. Bush previously declared disaster areas in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida, making federal money available for temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans and other initiatives.

Maryland fared much better in general, but Ivan's remnants still cause significant damage. In the Cecil County town of Colora, the two women were killed when a giant oak tree was toppled and sliced into the bedrooms of their home.

The damage was not caused by a tornado but rather straight-line winds -- bursts of wind that rush out ahead of a storm, said Mike Gorse, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service station in Mount Holly, N.J.

About 3:30 a.m., the winds reached 70 mph, Gorse said, splintering branches and uprooting trees along the way. Betty Kline, 62, and her mother, Grace Jackson, 87, were asleep in their bedrooms when the oak tree struck their house on Colora School Road, Maryland State Police said.

Kline's husband, Harry, 64, was awake in another room when the tree hit, police said. He heard the women's screams for help but was unable to reach them, said Maj. Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the state police.

Harry Kline crawled through a tangles of branches and out a hole in the roof to safety, said his sister-in-law, Mildred Price. He suffered minor injuries, police said, and the women were pronounced dead at the scene.

"It's like a dream," Price said yesterday as she visited her sister's crushed home. "You don't know what to think."

Three other homes in Colora were damaged, but no one else was injured, state police said. A two-story barn was spun 180 degrees and reduced to a single-story pile of red-painted wood.

Before blowing through Cecil County, the storm walloped Harford County with high winds and heavy rain. Meteorologists could not confirm a tornado, but fire officials said residents reported that a funnel cloud touched down in the 200 block of Wheeler School Road in the Pylesville-Whiteford area.

Two mobile homes were destroyed, and the five people inside were treated and released from a local hospital yesterday, said Capt. Chad Barben of the Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company.

"They were very lucky," he said. "It looked like a bomb went off. There was debris everywhere."

`Devastating mess'

Homes near the intersection of Mountain and Singer roads in Joppa were also damaged by strong winds.

At Phyllis Wassum's house on Mountain Road, what had been a canopy of pine and oak trees became what she called a "devastating mess." More than 20 of her trees -- some as tall as 40 feet -- were knocked over, uprooted or ripped apart. Sheets of siding and shingles were peeled off her house, and her chimney crumbled.

"Everything just splintered like toothpicks," Wassum said, wiping away tears.

In Western Maryland earlier, more than 50 structures in Allegany and Garrett counties were damaged by flooding, said John W. Droneburg, director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. He said the area likely received 3 to 5 inches of rain over Friday night and yesterday morning.

Several roads in Elkton in Cecil County were flooded after 4.5 inches of rain fell in the area, Gorse said.

Heavy rain, swollen rivers

With Ivan's storms past, Marylanders should be ready for more possible flooding today, Droneburg said. Particularly at risk are residents in Port Deposit, a town of about 700 on the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River, and people who live near the Potomac River from Williamsport to Point of Rocks, Droneburg said.

"Folks need to take these flood warnings very seriously," he said.

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