Baltimore County continues efforts to mitigate damage caused by Sunday storm

After a record rainfall on Sunday caused deadly flash flooding throughout the region, especially in historic Ellicott City, Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler re-emphasized Tuesday that county citizens should call on the county for help in getting their basements pumped out and getting rid of storm debris.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Mohler said that so far, county crews, either from the department of public works or fire stations, have pumped water out of around 400 basements in Catonsville and Oella. To report water that still needs to be pumped, residents should call 911 to be referred to the fire department, he said.

Mohler also announced that storm debris such as fallen tree limbs, house scrap or rubble will be picked up via a curbside collection. He was joined at the press conference by Department of Public Works Director Steve Walsh, Baltimore County Assistant Fire Chief Paul Lurz and County Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents Catonsville and Oella.

“The best way to help folks, is let’s just go to their homes and get the debris,” Mohler said. “Let’s make it easy, let’s not make them run around.”

Locations around Ellicott City and Catonsville saw between 5 and 10 inches of rain on Sunday. A man reported missing after the storm was found deceased in the Patapsco River on Tuesday. Sgt. Eddison A. Hermond, 39, was reportedly trying to help a woman to safety during the storm in Ellicott City.

During a tour of the area on Monday, Mohler said there was isolated damage and flooding to Catonsville and Oella, near Ellicott City, including damage to roads and homes that had been chewed up and left in the wake of rushing waters.

Those needing curbside collection in Catonsville or Oella should call 410-887-3560. Residents can also take their debris to a temporary drop-off center at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Center and Park, at 300 Oella Ave. from May 30 to June 8. The temporary drop-off site will be staffed from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Mohler requested anyone who sets out storm debris or trash to keep it on the sidewalk and off the street, so as to not “hamper any emergency personnel.”

Additionally, county crews have worked to re-open damage roads and those strewn with debris. As of Tuesday, only four of eight roads initially shut down remain closed: Old Frederick Road, River Road, Westchester Avenue and Thistle Road. Officials say the roads will likely be closed “for an extended period.”

County officials asked residents to call the same number for complaints about road damage or debris on roads: 410-887-3560.

Sewage complaints

Residents with sewage backups, as with flooded basements, are asked to call 911, officials said Tuesday. Once the fire department is on the scene, the crew will determine whether they are able to drain the water or if public works should be called in.

“We treat sewage differently. We have to put sewage back in the sewage system, we don’t just take raw sewage and pump sewage on the ground,” said public works director Walsh. “We clean it as best we can, but then once again, the homeowners need to call somebody to come and do a final restoration.”

Walsh said county residents could file a claim if they believe the county is responsible for damage through the county claims office.

“If a homeowner feels that the county has harmed then in any way, it will be investigated,” Walsh said.

Lurz said Tuesday that the county performed about a dozen swift water rescue, including a “complex” rescue on the Gunpowder River with assistance from Harford County during which three people were trapped on rocks in the river.

Lurz said the Baltimore County Urban Search and Rescue Unit was also sent to Howard County to help with operations in Ellicott City. Several units from nearby counties, he said, were brought in to help with pumping, fire and police operations in Baltimore County.

During the press conference, Mohler made an appeal to county residents: If you see something hopeful, good or inspiring, say something about it. He had said earlier in the week he had been inspired by people acting as good neighbors and helping one another.

Mohler said the county would be sharing stories on Facebook and Twitter of neighbors helping one another in response to the flooding and asked people to post their stories online using “#BaltCoNeighborsCare.”

Mohler said he thinks the stories will be “uplifting to the entire community.”

Quirk said it gives him a lot of hope to see neighbors helping each other and a neighborly spirit in the county.

“We will get through this,” Quirk said.

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