There was an overwhelming feeling of helplessness on Sunday as residents of this old mill town near Baltimore surveyed the damage from once-in-a-lifetime flooding that left at least two people dead and the city’s historic downtown in shambles.
Gov. Larry Hogan, who canceled an Eastern Shore appearance to be with devastated business owners, was escorted through the wreckage that remained after sheets of rain tore through the city on Saturday night. Many locals told The Baltimore Sun that the flooding was the worst since Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972.
“It’s hard to give them any kind of consolation to make them feel better today,” Hogan said. “But we are just going to promise them that we are going to provide all the resources that we can to help them.”
Saturday night’s rapidly moving water overturned cars and washed away lower portions of the art galleries, antique shops and restaurants that line the city’s historic Main Street. Nearly every business had damage of some sort, and a state of emergency was declared.
Howard and Baltimore county officials on Sunday afternoon confirmed that a 35-year-old woman and a 38-year-old man were killed, the Baltimore Sun reported. The woman had been in Ellicott City with her family when the storm hit; they tried to drive out of town, the Sun reported, but their car got stuck and they left it to get to safety, said Elise Armacost, a Baltimore County police spokeswoman.
Emergency swift water rescue teams managed to save all of the family members but the woman, Armacost said. Her body was found about 2:20 a.m. near a bridge over the Patapsco River.
The man who was killed also had been downtown in a car with his girlfriend when the waters rose and began to sweep their car away, Armacost said. The woman was able to get out of the vehicle, but the man wasn’t.
Andy Barth, a spokesman for Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, said about 2 p.m. Sunday that several other people who had been reported missing earlier in the day had been accounted for, but search operations continued and the death toll could rise.
“It is possible that some people may be found in cars or buildings. We don’t know,” he told the Sun.
Shannon Tolley, 45, a music teacher from Manheim Pa., told The Washington Post that she was driving through town with a friend on Saturday afternoon when they decided to stop. As the rain began, they popped into the basement bar at Ellicott Mills Brewing Company. Soon, she said, a flash flood warning alerted on Tolley’s phone, and “all of a sudden it started leaking in the basement bar.”
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SOURCE: USA Today; WUSA-TV, Washington