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Home / US / A man is missing after a historic flash flood in Ellicott City, Md.

A man is missing after a historic flash flood in Ellicott City, Md.

After the flood of the historic town of Ellicott City, Md., On May 27, residents face the daunting task of digging and rebuilding the debris. (Jon Gerberg, Erin Patrick O'connor / The Washington Post)

Eddison "Eddie" Hermond sat in a Mexican restaurant in Ellicott City on Sunday and celebrated the owner's birthday. Outside, a rainstorm turned into a merciless downpour that became a river that flooded buildings and wiped out parked cars. When Hermond spotted Kate Bowman, who was trapped across the street by rising water, he ran to the rescue.

"He has just stepped over the edge and he was immediately washed away," said Bowman, 41

. "It was so fast he was just washed away."

Hermond, a 39-year-old National Guard sergeant from Severn, Md., Missed on Monday, authorities said. Family members demanded privacy and said on Twitter that they remain "hopeful that he will be found safe."

The sudden and widespread flood, which was a declaration of exception by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R), was a frustrating, all too rapid continuation of a similar storm in the summer of 2016 that killed two people and caused more than $ 20 million in damage caused.

"It's really hard for us to be down here a second time, seeing the same thing over and over again," Lt. Jeff Carl of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services. "It's a Deja-vu feeling."

Once again, shop fronts and buildings in the historic city center have been severely damaged, including a few houses and businesses that had been struggling months ago to recover from the floods.

Since then, officials have tried to isolate Ellicott City from another pounding. But they said Monday that only 30 percent of a flood protection project initiated after the previous flood had been completed.

Frustrated residents said the county should have made far more progress. Allan H. Kittleman (R) of Howard County said at a press conference about these concerns: "We have plenty of time to address these issues, and at the moment we are talking about people's lives." He added, "In 22 months you can It's not like we did not do much. "

Sally Tennant, owner of Discoveries, a craft store on Main Street, said she and other residents had met with officials a few weeks ago Over the last 10 years over Ellicott City has been complaining years has made the city vulnerable. Sunday was the third big flood since 2011.

"The destruction is far worse than last time," said Tennant, whose efforts to reopen her damaged store were recorded in the Washington Post. "If they do not make the mitigation, we'd have to reopen idiots, we could be idiots anyway, reopened."

Mojan Bagha, owner of Main Street Oriental Rugs, said it took him three months to repair the damage to fix. He built a retaining wall – but water poured into his 120-year-old building anyway. He believes climate change will be at least partially responsible for two so-called "millennial floods" in two years. Nevertheless, he is optimistic about the reconstruction .

"This is a great community and a big country," he said. "Like a phoenix, it will rise from the ashes. Let's be positive. Let's think about how we can rebuild."

Howard County officials said they had received 1,100 calls between 9:00 am and 9:00 am. and 10 o'clock Sunday. At least two dozen people were stranded and had to be rescued. Baltimore Gas and Electric said 450 electrical customers and 270 gas customers remained in downtown Ellicott from Monday afternoon with no service.

Officers planned to issue ID cards to residents and business owners who need to return to the city center while keeping the public out and limiting the number of people in potentially dangerous structures.

At a meeting Monday afternoon, Howard County officials said Hermond had been swept away as he helped a woman find her missing cat. But in a tearful interview with Mail's Monday night, Bowman said it differently.

She said the rising water caught her in her shop, Clippers Canine Cafe. She hastily put her cat in a luggage rack and escaped from a first-floor window, only to be caught by fast, waist-high water.

"We were on opposite sides [of the street] He tried to keep me quiet," she said of Hermond, "He is an absolute hero for what he has done. , , , I just pray that they find him. "

Ellicott City was established on the site of a grist mill on the banks of the Patapsco River in 1772. The enclave became a major mill and manufacturing facility, becoming the end of the first section of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1830, according to Preservation Maryland has Ellicott City more than 200 buildings from the 19th century or earlier and was designated a National Historic District in 1976. Its location in a valley where two large streams meet the river has made it particularly prone to flooding.

Monday morning, at the intersection of Main Street and Court Avenue, three cars crumpled and wedged under a bridge over the swollen Tiber Creek whose banks had been washed away, another car a few meters away on the shore was muddy, its trunk open.

Cars and debris lie under a bridge over the Tiber Creek at the intersection of Main Street and Cour t Avenue collapsed in Ellicott City. (Michael E. Miller / The Washington Post)

A vast maze of debris washed down by the flood indicated life. In fragmented wooden beams lay a spray bottle with deodorant, a flower pot, a front door. A white football rested on a shattered silver sedan. One hundred meters upstream, a 20-foot section of Ellicott Mills Drive had collapsed into the creek. A small stone building – supposedly the 1840 built old courthouse – had collapsed completely, its shingled roof lay on the ground.

State police in SUVs and helmets rode up and down Main Street, blocking everyone from entering. They warned that buildings may be unstable and said that experts are still investigating the damage.

The Mexican restaurant where Hermond attended the birthday party, La Palapa Grill & Cantina, was spared due to its location on the hill, due to the location of the owner Simon Cortes. Wedding guests, who had celebrated in the nearby Main Street ballroom, sought refuge.

But Cortes, like other business owners and residents, said the Sunday's flooding seemed worse than the 2016.

Friends of Hermond broadcasted his photo on Facebook and Twitter Monday, hoping it would make the search easier.

According to the Maryland National Guard, Hermond was assigned to the Camp Frettler Military Reservation in Reistown, Maryland. He was not in active service. He joined the Air Force in 1996 and served for 10 years, then joined the National Guard in 2009.

Kenneth Josepha, a longtime friend of Hermond, an analyst with the State Department of Northern Virginia, said he was not at all surprised. His buddy ventured into the flood after seeing Bowman in distress.

"He's such a guy," said Josepha. "If we called him now and said we needed help finding someone, Eddie would be there in five minutes."

Some flood-affected residents visited a Red Cross-run shelter on Monday. Among them was Loretta Moran, who returned Sunday night with her husband to her house on Main Street to nail down some of her tenants on the upper floors of her home.

Loretta, 64, and her husband, Tim, 66, led the eight stranded tenants – including a 2-year-old child – and a dog through their back door.

Looking back, Moran said, she saw water as high as 15 feet.

"It was awful," said Moran of the Gerassels through the forest. "The floor washed away underneath us."

At the shelter, she said she was worried about getting medication for her husband, who is recovering from a brain aneurysm and heart attack before the flood.

The need is in the trunk of our car, but they will not let us in, "she said.

Like other residents, she wondered if the officials had done enough in the two years since the last flood: "There is a lot that could have been done to prevent this. "

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