In response to rising water from Superstorm Sandy, suggested evacuations were beginning Monday night on Main Street Ellicott City, a spokeswoman for the Howard County government said.
"(Police) are getting ready to go door to door to residences and business," said spokeswoman Kathy Sloan-Beard Monday night. "Most of the residences are in apartments above the businesses on Main Street, and we're issuing recommended evacuation notices at this time."
The businesses and residences affected, Sloan-Beard said, are the ones closest to the Patapsco River and the Baltimore County line.
"At this time, the river is rising," she said. "Assuming the rate of the rain continues, the water will reach the doors of those buildings by 3 a.m."
The suggested evacuation could become mandatory, Sloan-Beard said, "if the situation warrants."
Residents will be told to seek shelter elsewhere, and if they don't have anywhere to go, Sloan-Beard said, they will be directed to the county's emergency hotline to receive information on the county's emergency center.
The Bain Center, at 5470 Ruth Keeton Way in Columbia, is being used as a shelter. According to an earlier release from the county, those needing to shelter are encouraged to bring only essential items including medications, medical equipment, personal care items and sleeping bags or bedding. Pets are allowed at the shelter.
County Executive Ken Ulman earlier Monday declared a state of emergency in Howard County, as heavy winds and rains from Hurricane Sandy battered the region.
"I cannot emphasize enough the serious nature of what looks to be a once-in-a-lifetime weather event," Ulman said in a statement. "Now is the time to stay in place, be safe, and be vigilant."
In flood-prone Ellicott City, Sloan-Beard said it looked likely the lower end of Main Street, at the intersection of Maryland Avenue, would have to be closed to vehicles.
"We’re not sure at this point," she said. "We're watching the water, and they're not going to close it before they absolutely need to cut off that transportation route. Closing it at some point will be absolutely necessary; we don't know how long that time will be until we see how much water we get."