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Catastrophic flash flood strikes Ellicott City, Maryland; Body of missing National Guardsman found

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
May 29, 2018, 2:02:35 PM EDT

Roads turned into raging rivers in Ellicott City, Maryland, on Sunday afternoon when thunderstorms unloaded more than two month’s worth of rain in less than two hours.

Main Street in Ellicott City, located about 30 minutes west of Baltimore, experienced some of the worst flooding as swift-moving water swept cars down the road. Numerous water rescues were conducted around the town by emergency crews amid the high flood waters.

One fatality has been reported in the wake of the flooding. The body of Maryland National Guardsman Eddison Hermond, 39, who was initially reported missing on Monday, was recovered on Tuesday in the Patapsco River, officials confirmed.

Hermond, was swept away during the flood while trying to help a woman find her cat, said Gary Gardner, the chief of Howard County Police Department, during a news conference on Monday afternoon.

"Rescue personnel have been searching buildings and waterways in the area since the flood. There have been no other reports of missing people," the Howard County Police Department said in a statement.

During the flooding and in the immediate aftermath, there were reports that buildings collapsed in the city. Flowing water was above the first floor of buildings in some areas.

The significant rainfall prompted the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue a rare flash flood emergency for Ellicott City and surrounding areas.

"At 6:33 p.m. EDT, catastrophic flash flooding was ongoing in the Ellicott City and Catonsville areas, with many areas seeing over five inches of rain," the NWS said.

As of 6:10 p.m. EDT Sunday, 9.71 inches of rain had fallen near Catonsville, Maryland, according to a trained spotter.

Typically, the Baltimore area receives around four inches of rain during the entire month of May.

The incredible rainfall rates caused the Patapsco River near Catonsville, Marlyland, to rise above 17.8 feet in less than two hours, setting an all-time record at that location.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on Sunday evening amid the significant flooding.
“Less than two years ago, the citizens of Howard County and Ellicott City went through a horrific ordeal, and sadly, they are facing a similar emergency today,” Hogan said in a press release. “Our administration is closely monitoring the situation and working in partnership with local officials, including Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, to respond to this extreme weather as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

This is the second time in two years that Ellicott City was hit by a significant flood.

Kittleman remarked that the damage appeared worse than what occurred on July 30, 2016.

“We will be there for them [residents and business owners] as we were in 2016,” he said.

Detailed weather forecast for Ellicott City
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During the 2016 flood, nearly 6 inches of rain fell in under two hours time, much of which falling in less than an hour. This flooding left two dead, hundreds of vehicles damaged or totaled, and significant damage and erosion around the town.

"There are no words to describe the devastation in Ellicott City," Kittleman said, adding that in addition to the businesses that have been destroyed, a portion of Ellicott Mills Drive was also washed away.

road washed away ellicott city

A portion of Ellicott Mills Drive was washed away by floodwaters on Sunday, May 27. (Photo/Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman)

Drier weather is in the forecast this week, which should aid cleanup efforts.

“The Baltimore area should see some much drier weather into Wednesday,” AccuWeather Meteorologist John Feerick said.

The Howard County Government launched a recovery website for all 2018 flood related information.

Ellicott City car

A car that was swept into the riverbank rests just off Main Street in flood-ravaged Ellicott City, Md., Monday, May 28, 2018. Sunday's destructive flooding left the former mill town heartbroken as it had bounded back from another destructive storm less than two years ago. (AP Photo/David McFadden)

Ellicott City damage

Residents gather by a bridge to look at cars left crumpled in one of the tributaries of the Patapsco River that burst its banks as it channeled through historic Main Street in Ellicott City, Md., Monday, May 28, 2018. Sunday's destructive flooding left the former mill town heartbroken as it had bounded back from another destructive storm less than two years ago. (AP Photo/David McFadden)

ellicott city flood

Feet of water flowing through Ellicott City, Maryland. (Photo/Max Robinson)

ellicott city flooding car

A car that was swept away in flood waters in Ellicott City, Maryland. (Photo/Max Robinson)

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