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Rain, melting snow cause high water

December 12, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Rising water rendered numerous area roads treacherous or impassable Thursday after more than an inch of rain fell on the area.

As a result, crews in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia responded to reports of vehicles getting stuck on waterlogged roads.

A Washington County emergency dispatcher said many roads had been closed, especially along the Conococheague and Antietam creeks.

As of 9:15 p.m., 22 roads still were shut down. Most clearly were marked as closed, yet some motorists still tried to drive through.

A man who got stuck in the Leitersburg area on Leiters Mill Road, which was flooded, had to stand and watch as his vehicle floated away, the dispatcher said.

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Emergency crews also responded early in the day to a call of a car stuck in water at Mount Aetna and Mapleville roads, and later in the day to a couple of other vehicles stuck elsewhere.

Funkstown Mayor Robert L. Kline said Thursday night that water still was high near the pump stations in town.

"It's up to the lower doors," which have special locks to seal them off, he said.

Although a dispatcher said there was talk of evacuating the Poplar Street area in Funkstown during the day Thursday, Kline said he hadn't heard that.

Weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site reported that Hagerstown had 1.14 inches of precipitation - rain and melted snow and ice - on Thursday, following .73 inches on Wednesday.

"It rained really hard down here," Boonsboro weather observer Barbara Snook said. "My whole alley flooded."

Snook recorded 2.07 inches of precipitation, most of which fell between 11 p.m. Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday.

A dozen or so roads in Berkeley County, W.Va., were closed Thursday morning because of flooding, said Steve Allen, director of the county's Office of Emergency Services.

Although rescue crews were called out twice for possible cars trapped in high water, by the time they arrived everybody was OK, Allen said.

The worst could be yet to come in Shepherdstown, W.Va., where the Potomac River is expected to crest at 19 feet at 2 p.m. today - above the flood level of 15 feet, Allen said.

Flooding is not expected at the Potomac River in Williamsport, on the West Virginia-Maryland state line. The river there was at 8 feet Thursday afternoon, well below the flood stage of 23 feet, Allen said.

The National Weather Service reported that the Potomac stood at 15.1 feet Thursday in Hancock, where the flood stage is 30 feet.

In Chambersburg, Pa., a woman had to be rescued from her vehicle on Commerce Street early Thursday after it stalled in high water, according to Jason Strite, the rescue sergeant for the Franklin Fire Co.

"She was stuck in about 2 feet of water," Strite said. The woman called 911 from her car at about 5:15 a.m. and a rescue unit from the fire company and an ambulance from Chambersburg were dispatched to the scene.

Medical Sgt. Chad Kelly of the fire company walked out to the car and helped the woman walk back to dry land, Strite said.

Staff writers Candice Bosely, Don Aines and Brian Shappell contributed to this story.

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