A deadly flood ripped through the center of Ellicott City, Md., on Saturday night, killing two people and shattering store fronts in the historic town west of Baltimore, officials said.
A man and a woman died in the flooding, while several people who had been reported missing after the flood were all accounted for, Andy Barth, a spokesman for Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, said on Sunday. Mr. Barth couldn’t provide any additional information about the dead.
Nearly 6 inches of rain poured on Howard County in two hours on Saturday night, causing floodwaters to rush down the town’s Main Street toward the Patapsco River, which flows through town.
Dramatic images from the flooding and its aftermath showed a torrent of water picking up cars, a chain of people holding hands to save a woman stuck in the rushing waters, and whole sections of pavement missing as people toured in shock the ravaged business district.
Mr. Barth said it was the worst destruction in his memory, including the flooding from a hurricane in 1972.
“It’s really overwhelming,” he said. The majority of the damage was to businesses occupying the first floor of buildings lining both sides of the town’s main street, he said.
A search team, including Howard County police, area firefighters and emergency services, continued to pick through the wreckage, where they could uncover more casualties, Mr. Barth said.
Gov. Larry Hogan has declared a state of emergency to make sure critical funds reach the beleaguered town. “We are coordinating all available resources to address this emergency as quickly as possible,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Hogan arrived in Ellicott City on Sunday morning to tour the destruction. Repairs were “going to be a long process,” he told reporters.
The low-lying town’s vulnerability to flooding goes back to Colonial times, when the settlers first established a mill along the Patapsco.
County Executive Allan Kittleman called town residents resilient. They would use local, state and federal funds to repair the destruction. “When you have 5.9 inches of rain in two hours, I hate to say this, but there’s probably nothing you could have done to stop this,” Mr. Kittleman told reporters.
“They’re going to be strong. They’re going to rebuild.”