Water Main Break Floods Suburban Baltimore

September 21, 2009

A break in a 72-inch water main flooded a large section of the Baltimore suburb of Dundalk Friday, washing away part of a road, flooding cars and trapping some residents in their homes.

Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith said the water was knee to chest deep in some places and damaged homes and cars. No injuries or medical emergencies were reported, although crews did rescue several people.

“The only people who had to be rescued were those who went in the water,” Smith said.

Baltimore City public works crews stopped the flow to the broken section about 6:30 p.m., said Don Mohler, a spokesman for Smith.

Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, said city public works crews were working Friday night to turn off secondary water valves in the area.

Fire department spokeswoman Elise Armacost said the break in the six-foot main caused extensive flooding in the Baltimore suburb and police spokeswoman Susan Hunt said police sent swiftwater rescue crews to the scene.

Television news reports showed flooding along some streets, with water entering the ground floor of some homes, cars submerged up to the door handles, some residents in boats and others wading to higher ground. The images also showed part of a two-lane road washed away by the break.

Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey said officers would patrol the area overnight because the flooding had caused some power outages and prevented residents from getting into their homes.

Baltimore Gas & Electric spokesman Rob Gould said the flooding cut power to several hundred customers, but does not appear to have damaged any gas mains.

Connie Nall, 49, said the water knocked out power to her home but didn’t flood it. She planned to spend the night at her brother’s house nearby. Nall said she found out about the flooding when people called her at work. When she got home, she said, “I saw the water shooting up.”

“I kept thinking, oh these poor people, they’re going to get their cars messed up,” Nall said.

Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, said the Maryland Emergency Management Agency was monitoring the situation.

“The state will obviously be assisting in cleanup,” Abbruzzese said.

The state would assist families with property damage, similar to aid offered after Tropical Storm Isabel damaged homes in 2003, also in eastern Baltimore County, the spokesman said.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., issued a statement Friday evening calling the break a disaster.

Mikulski said she had contacted Smith about “working together to meet the immediate needs of the families and businesses of Dundalk as well as the long range problems caused by our aging infrastructure.”

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