Some roads in Harford County washed out by the deadly rain last Friday remain closed — and some closures may continue for extended periods, county officials said.
The county should know by the end of today how much damage the rain caused; as of Tuesday, the county estimated damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure was at least $2.1 million, Cindy Mumby, spokesperson for the county administration, said Thursday.
Local crews were still out on the county-owned roads finding problems and issues Wednesday, she said, and the county is asking local residents and businesses to report their losses.
“We’ve got 1,200 miles of county roads. So while this flood affected certain areas, we still have to cover the entire space and get a sense of where we need to take action,” Mumby said.
Two people died in the storm after floodwaters left a man, Daniel Samis, 67, of Abingdon, stranded on the bridge over Broad Run on Route 136 in Churchville. Melissa Lehew, 34, was swept away while trying to save him. Samis was found Saturday morning in his car about a quarter-mile away from the bridge. Lehew was found early Monday afternoon in the nearby Churchville Quarry lake.
Darlington and Churchville, and to a lesser extent Abingdon, got the worst of last Friday’s storm, though most of Harford County suffered some impact from rainfall that measured between 4 and 6 inches in the areas where the most damage occurred.
While most state roads affected had reopened by Saturday after temporary fixes, the Highway Administration has been working to clear away any debris that built up behind the bridges and culverts. More rain is forecast for today and over the weekend.
“We want to remove that debris to let the water flow so it doesn’t start to back up again,” Charlie Gischlar, an SHA spokesman, said. “That becomes a dam — and that’s not good.”
During the storm, Route 136 (Harkins Road) at Onion Road in Pylesville, where a tree fell, was closed for a couple hours. Closed due to flooding were Castleton Road at Glen Cove Road in Darlington, areas along James Run around Routes 543 and 7, and at Routes 1 and 136 in Darlington.
“Once the water flows, it can be very destructive,” Gischlar said. “Once the rain stops and the systems can catch up with it, we can let traffic flow.”
Embankments along Route 136 and Route 543 were washed away in a few places, pushing back guardrails, leaving dropoffs on the sides and causing erosion beneath the road. The state used rip-rap to stabilize those areas, Gischlar said.
The cost of the cleanup will be determined once it’s finished, which Gischlar said the state hoped would be by today.
“The highway tech at the Churchville maintenance shop said everything was going smoothly,” Gischlar said.
No major damage was reported at Susquehanna State Park, according to Stephen Schatz, director of communications for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The heavy rains flooded Deer Creek, with high water washing out a county road — Craigs Corner— that passes through the park, Schatz said. The water left a significant amount of debris on the boat ramp at Lapidum. Staff worked to clear one of the ramps before the holiday and a second ramp was cleaned this week, Schatz said.
Road closures, fixes
At the height of the storm, 20 county roads were closed. By mid-afternoon Thursday, the number of closures had been pared down to six. Three roads were reopened earlier in the day, Mumby said.
The following information about remaining county road closures and how and when they will be fixed was provided by Mumby:
Glen Cove bridge #155, just west of 1803 Glen Cove Road: The bridge is severely scoured under the abutments with partial failure of the downstream wingwall and abutment. The county is planning on complete replacement, but investigating other options as well. The bridge was in good to very good condition prior to the flood — as such, repair or replacement wasn't part of the county's long range plan, so it will have to start from scratch with a new bridge design and permitting (about two years) with construction lasting about one additional year. The estimated closure is two to three years.
Glen Cove bridge #156, just west of 1920 Glen Cove Road: This bridge was on the long-term replacement schedule, but remained in acceptable condition. It appears to be relatively intact with severe erosion to the surrounding roadbed and behind the abutments — the primary cause for the closure. Since a new bridge was planned and already designed, it isn't practical to repair the existing damage if it is going to be replaced in another year or two, so the county plans to expedite the construction using the current plans. The estimated closure is 12 to 18 months, weather-permitting.
Trappe Road culvert, just west of 1349 Trappe Road: The road is severely eroded and pipes are separated. The guardrail is knocked over and the stream bed is full of boulders thereby losing capacity for future storms. The county will likely replace the existing pipes with new upgraded pipes and may contract this work out. The estimated closure for design, permitting and construction is six to 10 months.
Snake Lane bridge, just east of 2920 Snake Lane: This bridge was already slated for replacement and the project was awarded with construction scheduled to start on Sept. 24. The structure did not wash out and repairs could have potentially been completed by Highways crews, but it would have taken several days to do and would have detracted from their other flood recovery efforts. This did not make fiscal sense considering the structure was being closed and removed in two to three weeks anyway.
Forge Hill Road, between Lochary and Old Forge Hill Road: The road encountered several “landslides” and has severe erosion along the ditch lines. The county has not determined whether repairs will be completed by Highways crews or if it will be contracted out. Since no homes are in the area and it has very low traffic volumes, for motorists safety, it made more sense to close the road for now and investigate methods of repair. The estimated closure is three to six months.
Linkous Road, north of bridge: The approach road on the north side of the bridge has significant loss of fill and pavement. Highways crews will repair within one to two weeks.
Report your losses
To assist recovery efforts after flash floods, Harford County government is gathering information on storm damage from affected citizens and updating county road closure information with an online map. Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has also declared a local State of Emergency to facilitate potential federal reimbursement for county costs.
Harford County businesses and residents are encouraged to report their losses from last Friday’s devastating storm to the county Department of Emergency Services. Detailed reports are a first step in assessing damage to determine if those affected could qualify for state and/or federal recovery loans. Reporting this information does not guarantee loan assistance, but will help the county demonstrate the need for help and begin the recovery process, the county said in a news release.
Businesses and residents should be prepared to provide the date and type of damage, an estimate of their losses including lost revenue for businesses, and information on insurance coverage, if any.
Reports may be submitted online at https://bit.ly/2ClZ3OW or by calling 410-638-4029 to request a form by mail. More information is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for reporting is Friday, Sept. 21.
For a limited number of low-income residents in need, low-interest loans for housing repairs are available now, facilitated by the Harford County Office of Community & Economic Development. For more information, contact Steve Gasparovic at 410- 638-3045 ext. 1826 or visit https://bit.ly/2Q6cqpv.