Marylanders spent Friday straining to recover from Hurricane Isabel, which flooded Baltimore's waterfront, drove hundreds into shelters and knocked out power for more than 1 million residents even as surging waters continued to threaten the western part of the state.

Record flooding in Baltimore's historic Fells Point and popular Inner Harbor had residents canoeing through city streets and wading to work in shorts. Downtown Annapolis and eastern Baltimore County, among other areas, also were left under several feet of water Friday morning.

"I would hope that this is the end of the flooding," Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley said Friday.

Hours earlier, he was monitoring the flooding. "The water is a beautiful thing, an asset. But sometimes, it turns on you."

Repair crews worked overtime Friday to restore electricity to the more than 1.27 million households that lost power in the state -- the worst outage Maryland has ever seen, officials from the state's two major utilities said.

The damage was particularly striking considering many officials and forecasters said Isabel had spared Maryland its worst as it lost strength Thursday and passed to the north and west.

Still, the storm was believed to have claimed a second victim in Maryland Friday after Baltimore County police found the body of a white male floating in flood water covering the 8200 block of Peach Orchard Road in Turner Station. The man, believed to be in his 40s, had not been identified. There was no sign of foul play, said Bill Toohey, a police spokesman. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

A motorist was killed during the storm Thursday when his vehicle crashed into a telephone pole in Anne Arundel County.

Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced that the Bush administration had approved his request for federal disaster relief for the state. Estimates of the storm's damage were still being tallied, but Ehrlich said that state overtime costs had exceeded $20 million and that damage to state roads had been put at $3.2 million.

Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele will be crisscrossing the state this weekend to assess damage. "It's been a tough day in Maryland, and it'll be a tough day tomorrow," Ehrlich said at a midday stop in Middle River, in hard-hit eastern Baltimore County. "But it could've been much worse."

That was the overwhelming sentiment of many across the state, where after a week's worth of dire warnings, many communities were left feeling that things could have been uglier.

Isabel dumped up to 9 inches of rain in parts of Virginia, but rainfall in most of Central Maryland was not much more than 3 inches. And although gusts of about 60 mph were recorded at some spots, the storm had lost much of its hurricane force by the time it swept through Thursday night and Friday morning.

So moderate was the rainfall in many areas that many residents were left slightly puzzled at the severe flooding that occurred. The explanation, meteorologists said Friday, lies in two factors: the storm's sustained winds and its timing.

It was the bad luck of areas such as the Baltimore and Annapolis waterfronts that the storm surges caused by Isabel's winds and rains came right around high tide, meteorologists said. And although the winds may not have been hurricane- strength, they were sustained enough for 12 hours to keep pushing water up the Chesapeake Bay and its feeders, even as the tides started to recede, they said.

"This was caused by wind stress on the water, roiling water up the bay, helping to create these surges," said Todd Miner, a meteorologist with the Penn State Weather Communications Group. "When you have wind going all in one direction, it's going to pile the water up."

That is what residents and business owners discovered Friday morning when they woke to find much of Fells Point and the Inner Harbor under water. Baltimore Harbor rose 7 feet above normal tides Friday morning, eclipsing the record set by the great hurricane of August 1933.

About midnight Thursday, it seemed as though the harbor would escape relatively unscathed. But by high tide, just before 2 a.m., water was surging past the seawalls and into Fells Point and downtown streets, businesses, basements and hotel rooms.

A rescue squad arrived on Fells Street in response to a report of people stranded at the Henderson's Wharf marina. Eight rescuers set off toward the marina, banging poles on the flooded streets to make sure manhole covers were in place. As it turned out, the stranded people didn't want to be rescued: they stayed out to watch their boats.

By daybreak, major roads, including Pratt and Light streets, were submerged under as much as 5 feet of water and were closed most of the day.