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Weather officials say dry days ahead

June 29, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY

After three days of rains that flooded roads and filled basements, meteorologists said Wednesday they believe the area can start drying out.

"We're not going to be talking about the magnitude of the rain we've had the last several days, absolutely not. But, unfortunately, it remains humid," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Bob Larson said.

According to information provided by Washington County public information officer Norman Bassett, at least eight people needed help escaping floodwaters during the heavy storms. The Washington County Emergency Operations Center, which was partially activated Tuesday night, was closed Wednesday afternoon, a press release states.

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The Washington County chapter of the American Red Cross, which prepared to shelter people Wednesday morning, planned to house one resident Wednesday night, director of emergency services Cindy Blackstock said.

Blackstock declined to say where the resident lived, but she said the woman would need a place to stay for a while.

"She's not been given the all clear to return, yet, and at this point, it's not habitable," Blackstock said.

According to a Web site maintained by Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer, the storms since Sunday produced 8.61 inches of rain. By 10 p.m. Wednesday, .05 inches had fallen during the day, according to www.i4weather.net.

More than half the precipitation that has fallen on the area this year has come this month, according to the Web site.

Ed Plank, Washington County highway director, said Wednesday afternoon that an estimate on damages has not been made, but he expects to make a rough estimate public in the next couple of days.

When Plank started work Wednesday morning, 15 to 18 roads were flooded, but by the afternoon, that number was down to 8 to 12 roads "because the water has been receding," he said.

According to the National Weather Service, Antietam Creek, which caused flooding Tuesday and Wednesday, will drop below "action stage" levels of 8 feet tonight. It crested at 10.88 feet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Conococheague Creek, which crested at 9.95 feet Wednesday, also is forecast to fall below the "action stage" tonight or Friday, according to the service.

The Potomac River at Point of Rocks is forecast to crest about 8 p.m. today just below flooding levels. Flood stage for that area of the river is considered 16 feet, and the service forecasts it will hit 14.3 feet.

Larson said while isolated showers and thunderstorms still could hit areas of the county, they will not deliver the "widespread, soaking, continuous, never-ending downpours," the East Coast has battled the past few days.

"It certainly has been an extraordinary amount of rain over a large area," Larson said.

Staff writer Pepper Ballard contributed to this story.

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