Flooding, evacuations in Laurel is challenging for residents, business owners

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(WJLA) - Laurel had a rough night.

Rising flood waters from the Patuxent River meant mandatory flood evacuations for hundreds of people.

Katlyn Densmore says the police pounded on her door at 1:30 a.m. early Thursday morning telling her to get out.

"Me and my fiancé we were just like, what? Where do we go?" Densmore told ABC7.

Along the Route 1 business district it was too late to move dozens of new and used cars from Chrysler Jeep dealership as brown water rose up out of the river banks and ripped across the roadway and parking lots. Dealership owner Fred Frederick says his losses will total about $400,000.

In some of those cars, the water got so deep, the cup holders were filled and the floor mats were thoroughly soaked. Many were completely wrecked.

Other flood-prone areas got soaked too. Annapolis had two days of extreme high tides in Upper Marlboro, as often happens at water-covered Water Street and Marlboro Pike.

But the Laurel flooding was unexpected and the result of concerns about the Duckett Dam, just upstream.

Late last night, after three days of rain, engineers noticed a leak, causing a washout at the base of the dam. They decided to open flood gates to relieve pressure.

"We were not sure if that would mean support for the dam would also erode with it. We had to take the precaution we took," said engineer Jim Neustadt.

Unfortunately, that precaution sent a torrent downstream and caused the flooding. Both business owners and evacuees said they understood - but they sure wish they'd had some warning.

"They had to know Sunday what to expect," said Fred Frederick.

"I think it would have been different, and it would have been nice, if we would have known that was gonna happen," said Densmore. "But we didn't even know."

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