Flooding Kills 2 in Maryland; Gov. Declares Emergency

Six inches of rain fell in Ellicott City, Maryland, in just a couple of hours, officials say

What to Know

  • A man and a woman were killed by flood waters, according to county officials.
  • 40 people from the Phoenix Emporium, a bar in Ellicott City, and at least 80 others from cars in different locations were rescued.
  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Howard County.

Flood waters tore through the streets of Ellicott City, Maryland, Saturday -- killing two people and causing extensive damage to property and infrastructure.

A man and a woman were found dead Sunday morning, said Andy Barth, spokesman for Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. 

The victims have been identified as 35-year-old Jessica Watsula, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and 38-year-old Joseph Anthony Blevins, of Windsor Mill, Maryland, Baltimore County Police said. Both bodies were discovered on the Baltimore County side of the Patapsco River, authorities said during a news conference.

"This was a terrible, terrible, horrific incident before we knew two people had died. That just makes it so much more horrific," Kittleman said during the news conference.

Two people were killed after being swept away by floodwaters in Ellicott City, Maryland. News4’s Darcy Spencer reports.

Police said Watsula's body was found about 2:20 a.m. Her brother told police that she and family members were visiting Ellicott City when the flooding happened. They were inside Watsula's vehicle, trying to leave, when the vehicle was swept away. Everyone but Watsula managed to escape the vehicle.

Watsula was swept away and eventually found about 200 yards from the Ilchester Bridge, police said.

A man walking a trail discovered Blevins' body washed up on shore near Ilchester Road about 8:30 a.m., police said.

Police said Blevins was in Ellicott City with his girlfriend. Their vehicle was swept away with the couple inside. His girlfriend got out of the vehicle and was rescued, but Blevins was swept away.

[NATL-DC] Floods Rip Through Ellicott City's Main Street

Fire and rescue crews rescued 120 people during the flooding, Kittleman said. He said the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services rescued more than 40 people from the Phoenix Emporium, a bar along Main Street in Ellicott City, and at least 80 others from cars in different locations.

Everyone who was thought to be missing has been accounted for, he said.

Kittleman said the damage sustained during the flooding was the worst in at least 50 years and possibly the worst in the 244-year-old town's history. He says virtually every structure and business along Ellicott City's Main Street was damaged.

He compared the aftermath to that of a war zone or the set of a disaster movie.

"Cars everywhere, sidewalks missing, roads partially gone, utility poles down, cars on top of cars, buildings - the bottom floor completely gone, foundations completely gone. So, no - I don't think we can compare this to anything we've seen before," he said.

Kittleman estimates the cost of the recovery will run into the tens of hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Regardless of how bad those roads are, regardless of how bad those sidewalks are, regardless of how bad stores are - we can fix that. We can't fix a lost life," Kittleman said.

"The devastation is quite remarkable," Barth said, noting that six inches of rain fell in just a couple of hours. "I've done this a lot, and I've never seen it like this."

Barth said he was unsure about any other serious injuries due to flood waters.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Howard County on Sunday. The order allows the state to efficiently coordinate support and provide additional assistance to Howard County.

"We are coordinating all available resources to address this emergency as quickly as possible," Hogan said. "Our administration is working closely with local officials, including Howard County Executive Allen Kittleman, to respond to this major storm event."

The Hogan administration has asked state agencies to respond to the effects of this storm, including the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, which has increased its activation level and is coordinating resource requests received from Howard County.

Those affected by the storm who are in need of non-emergency assistance can call Howard County’s Police Department at (410) 313-2200.

The Baltimore Gas and Electric Company showed more than 4,000 customers were without power on its outage map about 11 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the outages were down to 930.

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