Max Robinson thought he could make it to his car parked in a lot in historic Ellicott City Sunday afternoon.
That was until the wind started whipping and brown murky water from the Patapsco River began rushing faster and faster down the street. The freelance photographer began banging and pulling on apartment doors until he found one that was unlocked. He took refuge there for the next couple of hours.
“I got caught in the flood,” he said.
Trapped and in disbelief, Robinson began chronicling the storm on Twitter with videos, photos and commentary. His account went viral and even got the attention of media outlets. One post with a video showing water rushing down the street had 267 retweets.
He posted photos of water rising as high as street lights and cars crashed into poles.
“Water keeps rising, this is like 6 feet at least,” he tweeted. “I really hope no one is on ground level [right now].”
There were many anxious moments.
“I don’t think anything will happen to me but if it does I love you all, this is terrifying,” he tweeted shortly after posting a photo of water halfway up the door of the apartment he had sheltered in.
A photo he took of a tree blocking the door of a local business made The New York Times website.
He got into bit of a Twitter battle with Fox News Network, which asked to use one of Robinson’s videos. He declined. His clip was included in a video montage the network tweeted accompanied by the following text: “Dramatic video shows ‘catastrophic’ flash floods in Ellicott City amid heavy rains on Sunday. A state of emergency has been declared in Maryland.”
A tweet from Robinson asking Fox to “pay me for the video I told you you couldn’t use” had over 20,000 retweets.
Robinson said he is now speaking to an intellectual property attorney to explore possibly suing the network. A spokeswoman for Fox said the network got the video from the subscription service Associated Press Television News and is entitled to use it.
Robinson said he knows there are more pressing matters as a result of the flood.
During the ordeal he tweeted how his hands hadn’t stopped shaking in more than an hour. On Monday, Robinson had to clear essential belongings from his Main Street apartment. His family’s business Park Ridge Trading Co. was gutted by the floods. The family has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help with the cost of rebuilding.
Robinson was still taking it all in Tuesday.
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“I am trying to take it minute by minute,” he said.