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Storm soaks Tri-State

Downpours flood basements, close roads

Downpours flood basements, close roads

March 29, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL and TARA REILLY

shappell@herald-mail.com
tarar@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE - Heavy rains that fell across the Tri-State area Monday closed some roads and flooded basements, especially in southern Washington County.

A Porterstown Road resident said the flooding around her property south of Keedysville was the worst she'd seen in two decades.

Emergency responders were inundated with calls from across the county Monday evening as a result of heavy rain in the area, said a Washington County 911 center dispatcher.

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A reported 1.8 inches of rain had fallen in the Hagerstown area by 10 p.m. Monday, according to weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site, i4weather.net.

South County appeared to be hit particularly hard. Boonsboro weather observer Barbara Snook said that by early Monday night the area had received 2.76 inches of rain since Sunday.

A Washington County 911 Center dispatcher said the service had received "a ton" of flooding calls from throughout the county, including Boonsboro, Sharpsburg, Williamsport, Clear Spring, Keedysville and Rohrersville.

The basement of Martha Carpenter's Mount Briar Road home illustrated the problems the rain caused.

Elliptical machines, couches, documents, weights and computer equipment were among the items soaked in the more than 6 inches of standing water in Carpenter's basement.

On the same floor of the house, in a finished guest room/office, puddles formed on the blue-gray carpeting, and the bottom portions of a comforter draped off the side of a bed rivaled the wetness of a used paper towel.

Carpenter, who was in the midst of a lengthy telephone conversation with her insurance company by 8:30 p.m., said she has not seen anything like this in three years at the home.

"I could see water just pouring off the hills and standing against the house," she said. "Within hours, it (the basement) was totally full."

Carpenter, who traded in her night slippers for a pair of bright pink, polka-dotted rubber boots, said members of the Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Co. dug trenches away from the house to divert some of the water and helped remove a couple of inches of water from the flooded basement.

"They got a whole bunch of calls while they were here digging," she said.

A few minutes away, through roads such as Geeting Road that were barely passable even with a sport utility vehicle, Joyce Holder was monitoring a runoff ditch that goes past her back yard off Porterstown Road. The rapidly flowing water that had formed in the area Holder said usually produced only a trickle of water, sounded a bit like the rides at a water park and was audible from the road.

Water had overflowed onto several sections of the property and moved a footbridge by more than 10 feet at the height on the storm, Holder said. She said that, at one point, the water was rushing so heavily that she could not see the footbridge.

"This is the worst I've seen it in the 20 years that I've been here," Holder said. "I called 911, I was so scared."

Flooded roads

Washington County Highway Department Director Ted Wolford said that a number of roads throughout the county were flooded and that crews had been putting up barricades with high water signs on them.

He did not have the names of many of the problem roads available as of about 9:30 p.m., but he said some were shut down in the second round of rainfall.

"It's all over," Wolford said.

"We didn't have any problems until the second batch came through about 6 p.m.," he later added.

Maryland State Police said some of the flooded roads in Washington County included U.S. 40 just east of Clear Spring, Md. 56 at Big Spring Road, U.S. 40 Alt. at Clevelandtown Road, U.S. 40 at Independence Road and on U.S. 40 about one-half mile west of Independence Road.

In Pennsylvania

Rainfall in Franklin County, Pa., on Monday totaled 1.1 inches by 10 p.m., on top of half an inch that fell Sunday, according to local weather observer Todd Toth of Waynesboro, Pa. He said the storm was moving slowly from west to east, but its counterclockwise movement was pulling in moisture off the Atlantic and rain was expected to continue into this morning.

Rainfall for the month was 3.73 inches, compared to the 3.5 inches of precipitation the area receives on average in March.

The Franklin County 911 center received reports of flooding on a few roads in the Mercersburg, Pa., area and Sandy Mount Road in Letterkenny Township, but no widespread reports of flooding, according to a dispatcher.

In West Virginia

Between 1.5 and 2 inches of rain had fallen in Jefferson County, W.Va., by Monday afternoon, said Darrell Penwell, director of the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Services.

Although water would probably reach to the tops of banks in small streams, flooding was not expected to be a problem, Penwell said. Some flooding could occur on Bloomery Road along the Shenandoah River, Penwell said.

In West Virginia, emergency dispatchers in Berkeley and Morgan counties said Monday night they had not had any major problems due to the heavy rains.

A few roads in Morgan County were closed because of high water, a dispatcher said.

At about 6:15 p.m., lightning struck a utility pole in the 7500 block of U.S. 522, disrupting power in the southern part of Morgan County, an emergency dispatcher said.

The power was still out as of 10 p.m., a dispatcher said.

It could not be determined how many people were affected by the power outage.

Staff writers Don Aines and Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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