ELLICOTT CITY, Md. – After flooding sent cars floating down the Main Street in historic Ellicott City, Maryland, local officials said they were heartbroken to see the community so heavily damaged again less than two years after a devastating flood killed two people and caused millions in damage.
As the flood waters themselves late Sunday, the officials were just beginning the grim task of assessing the destruction.
During an evening press conference, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said authorities are not aware of any fatalities or missing persons. But first responders and rescue officials were still by the murky, damaged in the centre, performing checks and ensuring people are evacuated.
Kittleman said the damage was considerable and it seemed to him worse than the floods of two summers ago.
Residents and businesses, Kittleman said: “faced with the challenging task again.”
“We will be there for them if we are in 2016,” he said.
Gov. Larry Hogan by the area and promised every little bit of help we can.”
“They say that this is a once in 1000-year flood and we still have two of them in two years,” Hogan said.
The flooding Sunday swept away parked cars in Ellicott City, located along the western shore of Maryland’s Patapsco River, and approximately 13 miles (20 kilometers) west of Baltimore.
Jessica Ur, a server at Pure Wine Cafe on the main street of the city, told The Baltimore Sun that she saw as the gushing waters swept three or four parked cars in the street.
“It is significantly higher than it was,” she told the newspaper, comparing the water of 2016.
Mike Muccilli, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Virginia, said it was still too early to make comparisons between the two floods. But he said both were devastating.
In July 2016, Ellicott City received 6.6 inches (17 cm) of rain over a two – to three-hour period. On Sunday, the community got almost 8 inches (20.32 centimeters) of rain over a period of six hours, but most fell during an intense, three-hour period, Muccilli said.
“In a normal heavy rain event, you would not see this amount of flooding, where you see cars driving along the road,” Muccilli said. “This was a true flash flood.”
Some people reported hearing a loud alarm during the floods. Others said that they were on the second floor of a building to look anxiously to the seething waters. A sight during the flood: a handmade, white flag hung from an upper story of a Main Street building with the letters SOS.
“If you get stuck, we are coming,” Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services tweeted at one point.
Ellicott City since its reconstruction in 2016, floods damaged and destroyed businesses. Local officials recently said that 96 percent of the businesses were back in operation, and more than 20 new businesses had opened again in the centre.
Just two weeks ago, Hogan announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency were awarded with the state and the province more than $1 million to pay for projects aimed at reducing the flood risks in the area of Main Street.
Some are already asking questions about whether enough is done after the last floods to prevent a similar disaster.
Hogan said temporary improvement and more things are in the works to reduce community vulnerabilities. But he said that big changes take time, and no one expected a huge flood so soon after 2016.