Maryland's Ellicott City inundated by flash floods; crews conduct water rescues

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A state of emergency is in effect in a historic Maryland city after powerful flash flooding devastated its downtown. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency late in the afternoon for Ellicott City, a town 10 miles west of Baltimore, warning of an "extremely unsafe and potentially catastrophic situation".

Larry Hogan issued the directive around 4:40 p.m. local time as heavy rain pummeled Ellicott City's Main Street.

Some residents of Ellicott City told the Sun the flooding appeared to be worse than the 2016 flooding that killed two people and destroyed local businesses.

Weather.com meteorologist Jonathan Belles said a line of stagnant thunderstorms dropped more than six inches of water in just under two hours between Ellicott City and Baltimore. On Sunday, the community received almost 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain over a 6-hour period, but most of it fell during an intense, 3-hour period, Muccilli said.

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Kittleman said the flooding was worse than that endured in July 2016.

Strong thunderstorms have formed and reformed in the zone between Ellicott City and Baltimore, unloading extreme rainfall in a process known as training. The Petapsco River, located southeast of Ellicott City, experienced a 17-climb in water levels over those two hours.

"In a normal heavy rain event, you wouldn't see this amount of flooding, where you see cars floating down the road", Muccilli said.

The area remained blocked off Monday, even to residents and business owners, as Kittleman surveyed the debris. Two people were found dead after that Saturday night deluge, which Kittleman said at the time left the worst damage in at least 50 years and perhaps the worst in the town's history.

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"We will be there for them as we were in 2016", Kittleman said.

The newspaper reports that the swirling waters reached the second flood of one building at its height.

Authorities in an area hit by flash flooding west of Baltimore say they have no immediate reports of any fatalities.

Exceptionally active on Twitter during the flooding, Howard County Fire & EMS posted that rescues, some using rescue swimmers, were under way in Ellicott City, and that in some areas, water had risen to the first floor of buildings. Hogan says he has directed the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to assist Ellicott City to recover.

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