Howard County Times
Howard County

Ellicott City residents use human chain to rescue stranded woman from flood

Jamie Knight thought she was driving through any other summer rainstorm as she headed home to old Ellicott City from a night of studying at a sushi bar in Hanover.

But when she turned onto Main Street, she met a surge of floodwaters gushing downhill -- and taking her Volkswagen Beetle with them.

"The current just kind of took my car down the street and I started trying to immediately pull over," the 29-year-old said. "I screamed at the guy, 'I don't know what to do,' and he said, 'You've got to get out.'"
The guy, All Time Toys owner Jason Barnes, banded together others who had huddled in front of an art gallery for shelter. They formed a human chain in a rescue that, captured on video, displayed the speed and force with which a storm inundated the historic community.
Six and a half inches of rain fell within about two hours, sending quickly rising floodwaters down Main Street toward the Patapsco River. The river rose 14 feet in an hour and a half.
Two people died in the floods, Howard County Police said.
David Dempster, who owns the Still Life Gallery on Main Street along with his wife, Sara Arditti, was already taking a video of the swift waters when they started carrying Knight's convertible downhill. 
Barnes attempted to cross the waters, but was quickly knocked off his feet and swept downstream. He fought his way back up, and joined with Dempster and two other men to form a human chain to reach Knight.
"He's a true hero," Dempster said of Barnes, who could not be reached for comment.
Knight, fearful she was trapped, hesitated.

"I didn't know how I was going to get out," she said. "The water was rushing so strong. You saw him get washed away. I didn't want to get washed away also."

She leaned out the passenger side window, stuck a pack of cigarettes in her mouth, and fell into Barnes' arms. He carried her to the art gallery foyer.

"It hasn't really hit me yet, to be honest," Knight said of the danger she faced.
After the flood water subsided, she was able to get her Samsung laptop and backpack from the car before catching a ride with a friend to stay the night with her boyfriend. Her car remains in the cordoned-off, devastated area along Main Street.
"I'm a little on edge, but I'm mostly worried about my car," she said.