Heavy rains cause flooding around Maryland

Ellicott City, parts of Baltimore County hit hard

September 08, 2011|By Frank D. Roylance and Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

Torrential rainfall brought on by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee flooded dozens of Baltimore-area roads, and sent the water rising out of rivers and creeks — and rescue crews have responded to more than a dozen calls of stranded drivers since midnight Thursday.

And forecasters warn that more rain is on the way.

Forecasters said heavy runoff will continue to spark concern into the weekend, as rivers rise behind the region's dams and threaten downstream communities.

Carroll County schools delayed opening by two hours Thursday, and Charles County schools closed entirely.

Anne Arundel County Fire swiftwater rescue teams had responded to 12 calls of motorists stranded in the water since midnight, fire spokesman Chief Michael Cox said. The drivers managed to extricate themselves in all but four of the cases, he said. In one incident, a 63-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman were taken to Baltimore Washington Medical Center to be treated for minor injuries after their car became disabled at Burns Crossing Road and Old Mill Road in Severn at 1:33 a.m., Cox said.

The pair decided to exit the vehicle and "both were nearly swept away by the moving water," he said. They were rescued by Anne Arundel County police officers who arrived before firefighters, Cox said.

Another man drove a truck around a barricade on Patuxent Road in Odenton and became trapped in six feet of standing water, he said. They also rescued a driver who entered standing water and became trapped in a sink hole, Cox said.

Firefighters also responded to a report of a drowning in Pasadena Wednesday night, Cox said.

A rescue team arrived at the 400 block of Riverside Drive after a resident heard calls for help at about 9:50 p.m., came out of a house and saw a victim struggling in the water. One person attempted to go into the water to help but the victim went under the water, Cox said. Fire rescuers were able to locate the man, estimated at about 45 years old, and began to resuscitate him. The victim was taken to Baltimore Washington Medical Center for treatment, and his condition was not known, Cox said.

Firefighters also assisted a family who needed to evacuate a home in the 600 block of McKnew Road in Odenton after they reported their car was underwater and water in the basement was rising, causing the odor of fuel in the home. The family was taken to a nearby community center for the night, Cox said. They have also received more than 65 requests for basement pumpouts, the spokesman said.

Flash flooding forced the evacuation of several blocks along Main Street in historic Ellicott City Wednesday, left some businesses covered in mud and cut people in Cockeysville off from their homes. It endangered a Carroll County teen and even a half-dozen members of Baltimore County rescue teams — forcing them into the swollen, fast-moving Patapsco, where they had to swim to safety.

"The whole river came up the back wall of the building and out the front door. The whole street was the river," said Spencer L. Padgett, a builder with Arrisbrook Builders, as he helped mop out the first floor of the company's Ellicott City office.

Exelon Corp. was opening the Conowingo Dam's floodgates, a move that could send the waters of the Susquehanna River into Port Deposit. Town officials canceled a Saturday festival that was to feature a concert by George Jones because Marina Park was expected to be flooded.

"We're not expecting this [storm system] to move off the coast until Sunday or Monday," said Carrie Suffern, a NWS meteorologist at the region's Sterling, Va., forecast office.

She urged motorists not to attempt to drive or walk through flooded roadways. "Be aware, you can't tell how deep that water is. It's very surprising how little water it takes to sweep a vehicle off the road, and once that happens you're in big trouble because you could easily be swept underwater."

Across much of the Baltimore region, the storm dumped more rain than Hurricane Irene did, but lighter winds meant that far fewer people lost electrical service. About 66,000 BGE customers lost service for a time; and almost 6,000 were in the dark as of 8 a.m. Thursday.

Flooding closed Baltimore Beltway ramps at Security Boulevard, stalling cars in more than a foot of standing water. The rain swamped roads and intersections elsewhere, diverting buses and forcing motorists to find alternate routes. But the biggest impact was on the region's major rivers.

Near Cockeysville, people who live in the Hunt Valley Station and Hunter's Run developments were cut off from their homes because both routes into the communities were under water. Around 10 p.m., about 65 cars were finally allowed to caravan into their communities. The residents had been waiting by a shopping center at the intersection of York and Ashland roads to see if officials deemed it safe to drive to their neighborhoods off Paper Mill Road, said resident Sharon Kearney.

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