Workers assess the street damage caused by the flooding. Photo / AP
A group of Maryland residents formed a human chain to rescue a woman trapped in her car during severe flooding in Ellicott City.
At least two people have died after severe thunderstorms pounded central Maryland late Saturday. Some 120 people had to be rescued.
The historic town of Ellicott City was one of the areas hit hardest by thunderstorms, where scores of business fronts were destroyed by the raging flood.
In a Facebook video posted by local business owner Sarah Arditti, a woman is almost swept away by the fast flowing water as she tries to drive through the deluge.
Workers gather by the sidewalk of Main Street that caved in after the flooding. Photo / AP
‘Get out, get out,’ one person screams to her off-camera.
At least four people are then seen linking hands as they desperately edge closer to the stranded driver.
‘I can’t get out,’ she replies, trying to climb out of her car’s window.’You’re not going to make it!’ one of the rescuers tells her.
‘You have to,’ another rescuer responds.
The man at the end closest to the car is briefly pulled by the water, but manages to hang on to the car.
He helps the woman out of the car and carries her in his arms, before they are both pulled back to safety.
Sara Arditti’s husband, Dave, shot stunning footage of the rescue while he used his other hand to hold on to the human chain.
‘Dave was at the top of the human chain holding the next man’s hand and filming with the other,’ said Arditti, who shared the video on her Facebook page.
‘The man who got washed away was incredibly lucky,’ she said of the rescuer closest to the car.
Arditti’s business, Still Life Gallery, was also affected by the flood waters.
‘Our basement frameshop is destroyed,’ she wrote on Facebook.
A statement from the office of Gov. Larry Hogan said the storms caused extensive damage to property and infrastructure in the central part of the state.
Hogan signed an emergency declaration Sunday morning that will allow greater aid coordination and assistance.
‘It’s going to take a while to assess everything, there is a lot of damage,’ said Andy Barth, a spokesman for Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, to Weather.com.
Barth said there is extensive structural damage to multiple buildings in the area.
Some people may have lost everything, Barth told the weather website.
Ellicott City was pounded by almost 6 inches of rain in two hours late on Saturday, sending the Patapsco River out of its banks, officials said.
Kittleman said the flooding in Ellicott City, about 55km northeast of Washington, was worse than that from Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
‘I don’t believe there’s ever been a flood and the devastation that we’ve had overnight in Ellicott City,’ he said in an interview with Baltimore’s WBAL NewsRadio.
He said the body of a woman and a man were found. Officials have not yet identified the deceased.
Other people who had been reported missing have been identified, it has been reported.
Kittleman said there had been severe damage to the historic downtown Main Street area.
Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency, as did Kittleman. The declarations allow aid to be released more quickly.
Workers gather by street damage after the flooding. Photo / AP
Firefighters rescued about 120 people from the high waters, including 80 from a bar, Howard County said in a statement.
Emergency workers were also dealing with a water main break and a natural gas leak.
Television footage showed a downtown street collapsed, power poles down, mud-covered roads and cars tossed atop one another.
The heavy rain was part of a system of thunderstorms that moved through the region.