County Executive Declares State Of Emergency Due To Flooding

She says residents should be prepared for more rain and additional flood damage.


Frederick, Md (KM). More heavy rain is in the forecast for Frederick County for the rest of the week. As a result, County Executive Jan Gardner on Thursday declared a State of Emergency on Thursday. “We are not restricting travel or asking residents to do anything immediately other than to make sure they use extreme caution during this time period,” says Gardner.

She says parts of Frederick County have received nine and ten inches of rain, creating dangerous flooding conditions and damaging many local roadways. “The Brunswick and Jefferson areas, and the city of Frederick have b been particularly hard hit,” said Gardner during a Thursday news conference at Winchester Hall. “We’ve been very fortunate to not have experienced  any loss of life in Frederick County, and for that we are very grateful.”

This State of Emergency gives authorization to county agencies to activate emergency plans and  take necessary actions to protect lives during the duration of the flooding and heavy rains, according to a news release from the County Executive’s office. It also allows the county to bring together all the resources necessary  for residents and businesses which suffered losses during the floods, and for those losses  in the days ahead. It may let the county recover some of those costs through federal and state programs, according to the release.

More rain is in the forecast through the weekend. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch through Saturday morning. “The weather situation can change rapidly, and can change with little notice,” says Gardner. “:So we must look forward and be prepared for additional damage and additional flooding.”

So far, 21 roads have been closed in Frederick County due to the flooding. “We expect that number to go up as the Monocacy crests. There’s going to additional flooding in areas that have routinely seen  flooding as well as areas that have usually not seen flooding,” says Chuck Nipe, the County’s Director of Public Works. “We will have work up to a month to restore the facilities that have been damaged. So your patience will be appreciated,” he continues.

During the news conference, Fire and Rescue Services Division Chief Tom Owens says during the past 48-hours,there were more than 462 calls for service. “And this includes  110 flooding condition responses, as well as 31 calls for water rescue,” he says. “Those 31 water rescue incidents have resulted in our fire and rescue personnel removing 75 men, women and children from vehicles that have either become stranded and disabled, or completely washed from the roadway as they attempted to cross through high water.”

With additional rain in the forecast, Chief Owens urges citizens to be prepared. “While you may never have had a wet basement, these are the kinds of conditions where it can occur. So move your valuables to higher level right now. You can get ’em protected and you can take the water in most places. Beware of electrical hazards as you get water into your homes,” he says.

Owens says fire fighters will not be pumping out flooded basements, but they will check for any hazards.

The City of Frederick was placed under a State of Emergency on Wednesday.

Mayor Michael O’Connor held a news conference on Thursday to outline the city’s response to the flooding. He gave a lot of praise to the city’s staff, including police officers, who worked hard to keep citizens safe during that time. But he also gave credit to the Carroll Creek Flood Control Project. “The flood control project in downtown Frederick that we spent millions of dollars on decades ago did exactly what it is supposed to do which is safeguarding  the lives and properties of our residents and our downtown businesses,” he said. “When Baker Park is flooded, that’s a good thing because that means downtown Frederick is not flooded.”

But he acknowledged there were some areas of the city which suffered from the flooding. “That North Frederick community because of the way the stormwater management system handled things. That seems to be an area that was particularly hard hit,” O’Connor said. “The western side of the city of Frederick because Rock Creek flows through there and it filled up. That there was extensive flooding in some parking lots out there that would typically drain into that creek. But the creek was full and there was no place for the water to go so the water stayed in they parking lot.”  He was referring to the parking lot near the Home Depot store in the now-closed Frederick Town Mall.

The Mayor also said the stormwater management system in Frederick worked as it intended, but it may not be designed to handle the amount of water from this week’s floods. “Those are things that we’ll have to look to long term in terms of how we better manage these events,” he says. “I think what we’ve all seen the so-called 100-year flood, or the so-called 500-year flood, they’re happening more often now, which means that amount of time is not what we think it is anymore.”

During the news conference, the City’s Director of Public Works, Zach Kerschner, said city water customers still should refrain from any non-essential use of water. “We did put out a notice last night {Wed} to our residents and businesses to curtail their use of water to the extent possible. The reason for that is that our waste water treatment is running at capacity and any amount of reduction of that wastewater that we can achieve would be beneficial for us,” he says.

But Kerschner says the city’s water is safe for drinking, washing and cooking.

He urge citizens who have a sewer backup to contact the Department of Public Works at 301-600-1440.


By Kevin McManus