Flooding impacts widespread, with at least one death, many roads closed

Laurel residents urged to evacuate because of dam releases

January 31, 2013|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

Impacts after Wednesday night's heavy winds and rain remain widespread around the region, with several roads remaining closed and rivers yet to crest and a wind advisory in effect. In Montgomery County, the flooding required several rescues, and in Laurel, a woman drowned in the high waters.

A body was found floating in the water near Fort Meade and Laurel Race Track roads, in a low-lying wooded area nearthe Patuxent River and Laurel Park race track where homeless people camp overnight, Anne Arundel County police said. A witness told police they had warmed the woman, who has only been identified as an African American woman believed to be homeless, of rising waters earlier Thursday morning before she was found dead.

Laurel Mayor Craig Moe declared a state of emergency and recommended the evacuation of the area between Main Street and the Patuxent River on Thursday morning after the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission announced it would be releasing water from Brighton Dam in Brookeville and the T. Howard Duckett Dam in Laurel.

At least 10 roads were closed across Howard County because of high water, and another two because of dam release. Harford Road in the Glen Arm area of Baltimore County was closed because of downed trees and electricity wires.

Ellicott City's Main Street was closed Thursday morning, and emergency officials are closely watching the Patapsco River as water levels threaten to rise further, said Howard spokesman David Nitkin. Swift-water rescue teams were at the ready, county officials said.

Downed trees suspended service on the MARC train's Brunswick line, delaying more than 800 passengers for several hours this morning, according to the Maryland Transit Administration. The cleanup effort is expected to affect the evening commute as well, MTA officials said. 

More than 800 MARC passengers were delayed for several hours as a result of the downed trees. Passengers on the three affected trains were taken to Gaithersburg and transported by bus to the Shady Grove Metro station to continue their commute into Washington D.C. 

Three trains were not scheduled to be operating: Train 875 (4:25 departure from Union Station), Train 879 (5:40 departure from Union Station), and Train 895 (6:40 departure Union Station). MTA officials were adjusting the route and stop schedule for two other trains to accommodate.

At the Laurel MARC station, high water limited parking.

In Montgomery County, flooding generated "a large volume" of emergency calls, which ranged from individuals who drove cars into standing water and became stranded, with others in flash-flooded areas surrounded by fast-moving currents and rising water levels, said county fire and rescue spokeswoman Beth Anne Nesselt.

In one case, in the 1800 block of Brighton Dam Road just over the western Howard County line, a driver reported water as high as their car's radio, squatting on the seat of the car as they called 911. Rescuers arrived with water up to the handles of the car door and were able to free the driver with no injuries reported.

Emergency officials encourage drivers not to move through standing or moving water, even if only a few inches deep.

Rain is expected to have total a few inches in many areas. The official measurement at BWI Marshall Airport was 2 inches between 11 a.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday. The heaviest rain fell at BWI from 1-2 a.m., with half an inch during that hour.

The wind was meanwhile causing power outages Thursday. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. reported more than 9,600 customers having lost power as of 12:20 p.m., with all but 1,000 restored by that time. The largest number of outages occurred in Howard County, with large numbers also in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Luke Lavoie, Melanie Dzwonchyk and Alison Knezevich contributed to this report. Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.

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