The flood that devastated downtown Ellicott City, Maryland, killing two people and destroying or damaging at least 25 buildings, was the worst in memory of a 57-year-old county executive.
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said the city was flood prone but ones brought by hurricanes paled in comparison to what two hours of rain did Saturday night.
The 6 inches of rain between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. was the equivalent of a month of normal rainfall, he said.
“We’ve never seen such devastation in Howard County for over 50 years,” he said. “In the past, it has been bad. It has never been close to being this bad …
“We talked to a lot of people who said they had very little time to get ready — like ten minutes and all of the sudden it was there,” he added. “So that just goes to show you the strength of this, and it also goes to show you that nature is awfully powerful, folks. We are not in control and we have to be ready.”
Ellicott City, an affluent unincorporated community of 65,800 people and famous for its historic downtown, is about 12 miles west of Baltimore and in the valley of the Patapsco River, a major waterway flowing to Chesapeake Bay.
Video from the scene shows cars being swept away in roads that look like rivers. “People formed human chains to help out others,” said Andy Barth, spokesman for the County Office of Emergency Management.
Courtney Weglein told CNN affiliate WJZ the water got so high so quickly on Saturday night that a man had to be carried to safety.
“It was insane, she said. “It was a flash flood. And I literally came here, I thought we’re going to have dinner. Within five minutes, it was panic and my friend was pulling someone out of there, and I’ve never seen anything like it. … All I can say is, I’m just happy to be alive.”
Kittleman said he would never forget the video of residents forming a human chain to rescue a person trapped in a car in the rising water.
“I will never forget that because that tells me what the people of Ellicott City are like. That tells me that’s what people in Howard County are like,” he said. “That tells me this is not going to defeat us. We are going to become a stronger, better community, because that is who we are.”
SOURCE: Steve Visser and Chandrika Narayan