Water also flowed down an embankment at Penn Station, causing Amtrak officials to take one track out of service. No trains were canceled.

Kathleen Cusack, co-owner of the Charles Theatre, said she stopped by the building and was relieved to find that there was no damage.

"We were there but there was really no way for any customers to get there," she said.

The theater closed Wednesday but she said they planned to open with normal hours on Thursday. She didn't expect any disruption to a planned visit from director, screenwriter and producer Oliver Stone.

"That's our plan," she said. "We're hoping."

At the nearby Metro Gallery in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, where muddy water lapped up over the sidewalk, owner Sarah Wernersaid she found about four inches of water all the way to its back door. She had sand bags in storage and immediately put them at the door. But water continued to flow over them.

"It could have been worse," she said. "We usually have carpet down but had pulled them up for a recent event. Our artwork is high enough on the walls to avoid damage. I was able to move some sound speakers onto the stage."

Her neighbors at the Metro Cleaners were working hastily to mop up water, trying to push it out onto the street with squeegees.

Tyra Pierce, 56, who works for the city health department at the Walbert building at 1600 N. Charles St., paced up and down Charles, between North Avenue and Lanvale, trying to find the best place to cross.

Across the street from her building, a green station wagon was parked with water rushing over its wheels. "I normally park right there," Pierce said.

Garland Thomas, 45, who works a few floors above Pierce's office, also contemplated how best to cross the shallow, but rushing river.

"That's the trick — getting across. I'm trying to figure out the best approach," said Thomas, surveying the watery mess from the Hess gas station across the street.

He opted against a sprint across, deciding to walk around.

Thomas, who works for the Central Baltimore Partnership nonprofit, said he's never seen such a break, "This is basically four or five blocks. This is unprecedented."

Baltimore Sun reporters Kevin Rector and Edward Gunts contributed to this article.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

Mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts