At least two people are confirmed dead and more than 100 others needed to be rescued as a result of heavy rains that caused massive flooding and damage in Maryland over the weekend.
Nearly 6 inches of rain, or the equivalent of one month's normal rainfall, hammered Ellicott City between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, damaging buildings and sweeping cars. The heavy rain caused the Patapsco River that runs through the area to rise more than 13 feet, the National Weather Service said.
The catastrophe killed at least two people. The bodies of 38-year-old Joseph Anthony Blevins and 35-year-old Jessica Watsula, who died in separate incidents after they were carried off by the strong water currents, were recovered later, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said.
"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," Kittleman said. "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."
The rushing water was so strong it destroyed at least four buildings and caused substantial damage on 20 to 30 others. Damaged buildings were stripped of windows, and doors and photos revealed collapsed roadways in Ellicott City, an affluent community in Howard County with about 65,000 population.
Joyce Healy, who was driving home on Saturday night, said she saw a car, a Mercedez-Benz, floating in the waters.
"I've never seen anything like this, ever," Healy said. "The devastation down here — I'm just really concerned about them being able to rebuild."
Howard County government spokesperson Seth Hoffman said in an interview that gas leaks also occurred and crews are assessing the damage to determine the location of the leaks.
Authorities said that the gas service has already been turned off in the downtown area but it remains unclear how long it will be restored.
Kittleman said the damage caused by the flooding was the worst in the past 50 years. It may even be the worst over the entire course of the town's 244-year-old history. He added that the cost of the repairs may possibly reach hundreds of millions of dollars. Kittleman, however, said the incident would not defeat but rather strengthen the community.