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Tropical Storm Isaias brings heavy rains, some flooding to Harford County Tuesday

Tropical Storm Isaias brought heavy rains and some flooding to Harford County, closing about a dozen roads Tuesday, but moved out of the area shortly after noon.

Rainfall totals varied throughout the county, but generally in the 1.5- to 4-inch range, according to a National Weather Service spokesperson. In some places throughout Harford, reports reflected nearly eight inches of rain.

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Some lower-elevation areas experienced flooding, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said, and approximately 3,600 people in Baltimore Gas and Electric’s coverage area were experiencing power outages at some point Tuesday, according to the utility’s website.

Gusts of 23 mph had been clocked in the central area of Harford County, Glassman said.

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All told, Glassman said, the county had not been hit too hard by the storm.

County spokesperson Cindy Mumby said that the emergency response center deactivated at around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday and that the county was out of the storm.

County officials had earlier in the day expressed concerns about the possibility of strong wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph, resulting in more power outages, after the rains subsided, but those heavy gusts on the storm’s tail end never came, she said.

“It does look like the storm has passed us,” she said. “Much of the water has receded now.”

Walking along Juniata Street in Havre de Grace as rain from Tropical Storm Isaias pounds the area on Tuesday, August 4.
Walking along Juniata Street in Havre de Grace as rain from Tropical Storm Isaias pounds the area on Tuesday, August 4. (Matt Button)

The City of Havre de Grace announced that Revolution and Juniata Streets had been closed as the city was experiencing localized flooding. The city asked residents to stay off the roads and avoid non-essential travel.

Around 3 p.m., the city announce that all streets had been reopened as flooding subsided.

Chief of the Susquehanna Hose Company, Scott Hurst, said the Havre de Grace-based fire department had done a water rescue on the 100 block of Fairway Court in Havre de Grace. An ambulance was dispatched to the report of a fall, he said, and could not make it across the road, which was covered in 2 feet of water. That area, Hurst explained, is prone to flooding, and the rescue outfit was able to get the person to the ambulance after about 15 or 20 minutes.

“For us, this is relatively tame,” he said.

The company was also assisting evacuations in North East, a town in Cecil County, he said. The situation was worse there, with reports of multiple people trapped in their homes by floodwaters. The outfit dispatched one of its two swift water rescue units to help with the evacuation.

Cecil was one of five eastern Maryland counties under a flash flood watch until midnight, according to the National Weather Service.

Harford County reported that nine roads had been closed, fully or in part, as of noon Tuesday on account of flooding. Downed trees and traffic accidents were responsible for some other closures.

Aberdeen cancelled the day’s trash and recycling pickup “for the safety of our staff,” the city announced in an email.

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A Verizon utility truck travels along Prospect Mill Road, which was closed at the intersection of Route 543, during Tropical Storm Isaias Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020.
A Verizon utility truck travels along Prospect Mill Road, which was closed at the intersection of Route 543, during Tropical Storm Isaias Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. (Matt Button)

Harford County Government opened its emergency operations center to address stormy conditions Tuesday.

Harford County Emergency Manager Rick Ayers said the county was under a tropical storm warning. The National Weather Service also issued a flash-flood warning, which was in effect until 1 p.m. There was a threat of tornadoes in the county, but those never materialized.

Mumby said the county was taking precautions normal for a storm — monitoring the weather reports, putting out messaging on social media and reviewing its emergency plan. Because of the coronavirus, representatives from local and state offices that normally meet in Harford’s emergency operations center assembled virtually, she said.

Mumby warned against citizens attempting to drive through deep standing or moving water. Flooded roads have resulted in past fatalities.

“We always want to reinforce the messaging turn around don’t drown,” she said. “We have had tragedies in Harford County in the not too distant past from folks taking those risks, and we do not want that to happen to anyone else.”

According to the National Weather Service, about 100 people on average drown in floods every year; more than half are motorists trying to negotiate flooded roads. Just 6 inches of water is enough to send a car out of its driver’s control, according to the NWS.

“A vehicle caught in swiftly moving water can be swept away in seconds 12 inches of water can float a car or small SUV, 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles,” the organization’s website states.

The Harford County Sheriff’s Office responded to two motor vehicle crashes between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., though spokesperson Cristie Hopkins could not confirm if they were weather-related. Neither of those two crashes was fatal.

A motorist moves through standing water on Revolution Street in Havre de Grace as rain from Tropical Storm Isaias pounds the area on Tuesday, August 4.
A motorist moves through standing water on Revolution Street in Havre de Grace as rain from Tropical Storm Isaias pounds the area on Tuesday, August 4. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

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