Heavy rains, opening of flood gates caused major disruption in Old Town

It wasn't long before the buzz on Main Street reached fevered pitch Jan. 31. The talk was that flooding could occur, as it became necessary to move massive amounts of water, deposited by storms the day before, downstream.

Flood gates were opened. As water continued on its normal path, businesses and homes along Main Street were in danger, as the Patuxent River began spilling over its banks.

Sections of Avondale, A, B and C streets were temporarily closed, as was a stretch of Route 1, southbound into the city.

Merchants and other businesses on the busy street had to make a decision. Shut down, or stay open, awaiting the possibility of mandatory evacuations.

A group of folks undergoing treatment at Reality House on Main Street were moved to a city facility.

Debbie Zook, Vickie Weaver and others at Rainbow Florist were undeterred, and went about their work, with little concern.

BB&T Bank officials decided to err on the side of caution and closed the bank. Next door at PNC Bank, it was business as usual.

Laurel Meat Market's Bill Miles continued stocking shelves, as workers putting in a new floor carried on with their chores.

The American Legion parking lot was mostly under water. A few adjacent buildings were surrounded by the rising swell. Damage appeared minimal.

A word of thanks to members of the Laurel Police Department, numerous municipal employees, Mayor Craig Moe and city council members who were out and about, doing what was necessary to keep residents informed and safe.

There were those who made comparisons to this storm's fallout and the consequences of Hurricane Agnes in 1972. The general consensus seemed to be that there was "no comparison."

Sadly, Old Town recently lost a couple of good friends in January.

Donald Smallwood, a regular patron of Tastee Diner, passed away Jan. 25. He was a likable, endearing fellow. Whenever asked, "How you doing Mr. Smallwood?," he'd look you in the eye and respond with a hearty "terrible," then throw his head back and have a good laugh at himself. By all accounts, he was a real character.

Frieda May Wells died Jan. 26. A soft-spoken, gentlewoman, she quietly lived life. An employee of Industrial Towel Supply for 35 years, she and her longtime companion, Tom Folks, were rarely seen without each other.

Birthdays include Peggy Carlo McGill, on Feb 2. A Laurel native, Peggy is soon moving to a warmer climate. She'll be relocating to Tampa, Fla., the end of this month.

My "little buddy," A. J. Duke, celebrated his 10th birthday Feb. 3.


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