Body Found After Laurel Flooding

Woman apparently drowned in homeless encampment

Friday, Feb 1, 2013  |  Updated 10:08 PM EDT
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A woman in Maryland drowned after heavy rains caused flooding near Laurel. News4 Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports.

Tracee Wilkins

A woman in Maryland drowned after heavy rains caused flooding near Laurel. News4 Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports.

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Parts of Maryland and Virginia are still drying out following serious flooding Thursday that killed one person.

Anifa Kiwanuka, 26, apparently drowned as rains flooded a homeless camp in Maryland City along the swollen Patuxent River Thursday. Her body was found Thursday morning in a wooded area at Route 198 and Laurel Racetrack Road where homeless people live in tents.

The death apparently occurred before dams were opened on the Patuxent River, Lt. T.J. Smith said.

Ernest Moran, who lives in the camp, said about 15 people live in tents at the site and he escaped the rising waters with only his dog and a knapsack.

"It was a swamp'' when he woke up Thursday morning, Moran said, adding he expected it to get worse as water from the dams reached the area.

Meanwhile, other parts of the area are still recovering. Friday morning, the Maryland Transportation Authority said its American Legion parking lot at the Laurel station would be closed until further notice due to flooding - reducing parking capacity there by as much as 40 percent.

Floods poured into low-lying areas throughout the Washington, D.C. area Thursday in the wake of a line of thunderstorms that moved northeast through the region Wednesday evening.

The City of Laurel recommended evacuations Thursday in response to the threat of flooding. The order was signed by Mayor Craig A. Moe and said that water from the T. Howard Duckett Dam could cause flooding along the Patuxent River. The city said all residential and business properties from Main Street North to the Patuxent River should evacuate.

Laurel city spokesman Pete Piringer said the evacuations affected several hundred people in the city's historic district.

"As long as I've lived in Laurel -- 11 years -- I've never seen it like this,'' said Courtney Finney, as she watched floodwaters rise to the base of an overpass on southbound U.S. 1, which was closed to traffic.

More than a dozen roads flooded in Loudoun County, and Shenandoah County Schools closed Thursday due to flooding. The Bay Bridge and Harry W. Nice Bridge were under a wind restriction just after six a.m. CSX trains were also under a flood restriction -- preventing trains from traveling faster than 40 miles per hour.

Downed trees, meanwhile, briefly halted service on MARC's Brunswick line, and disruptions were expected to continue through the afternoon rush hour.

MARC spokesman Terry Owens said three trains carrying about 800 people were affected Thursday morning by the downed trees near Washington Grove. Passengers were taken back to Gaithersburg, where they were bused to the Shady Grove Metro station.

The severe storms brought heavy rain and potential for damaging winds and dangerous lightning.

Powerful storms lashed the South on Wednesday, including a tornado that touched down in northwest Georgia just before noon.

One person was killed when a tornado tore through Adairsville, Ga., overturning cars on I-75 and inflicting major structural damage, the Bartow County emergency management office confirmed to the Weather Channel.

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