Howard County officials released a handful of 911 calls from Sunday's devastating flooding in Ellicott City, offering insight into the fear faced by those trapped in the flood as well as the efforts by operators to keep them calm.
One woman called to report dozens of people trapped in an upper floor of Tea on the Tiber as floodwaters rose.
“Try to get people as high a ground as you can inside, all right?” the operator instructed the woman. The operator promised that help would get there as soon as possible.
“Are we going to die, ma’am?” the nervous caller asked.
“Honey,” the operator replied. “I’m going to do my best so that does not happen.”
Multiple callers reported a woman trapped in A Divaz Boutique.
“She’s right now standing on top of her counter screaming,” said a woman who was across the street.
As the operator took down information, the caller sighed and said: “God. This is worse than the last one.”
Other people called 911 from various spots on Main Street after retreating to upper floors. One woman counted nine people on the upper floor above the Summer of Love store.
The operator encouraged the caller to stay put until help could arrive. “All of Main Street is flooded, so hang tight and stay as high as you can, OK?” the operator said.
There also were multiple calls from La Palapa Grill & Cantina, which was filled with diners as well as guests from a wedding who fled the Main Street Ballroom on a lower floor.
A male caller calmly reported that he had 250 people inside the restaurant. He said he wanted to give authorities a head’s up about how many people were there. “I know this is going to be crazy,” he said.
Howard County officials have said they received more than 1,100 calls to 911 during Sunday’s storms, which caused devastating flooding on Main Street in Old Ellicott City.