National Guard member and Air Force veteran missing after Ellicott City flooding

Eddison Hermond. (Photo, Howard County Police)

A 39-year-old Severn, Maryland, man is missing after being swept away by flood waters as he tried to help a woman find her pet in a parking lot in Old Ellicott City on Sunday.

For the second time in two years, flooding devastated Main Street, destroying businesses and piling cars on top of each other as mud and debris covered the roads.

ABC7's Victoria Sanchez was on location in Ellicott City

Howard County Police continue to search for Eddison Hermond and are using search dogs to assist. Friends of Hermond said he is an Air Force veteran and is currently in the National Guard.

Friends say they're not surprised Hermond would risk his life to help someone else.

On Monday, one of the friends who watched him get swept away said they were eating at a Mexican restaurant on Main Street when the floodwaters began to rise.

"The owner came over and asked us to come outside and move our cars, it's flooding," said Joseph Lopez. "And a lot of us went out there, moved about 10 to 12 cars and got them out of the way in the parking lot where it had started to flood."

Then, Lopez said he and Hermond went back inside the restaurant.

"We started to barricade the doors, we locked them, trying to keep the water out," he said.

But when a woman turned to Hermond for help, Lopez said the Air Force veteran and National Guard member didn't hesitate, despite the danger.

"There was a lady with a cat and she wanted to leave, against everyone's advice, and my friend tries to help" he said. "So she's handing him the cat and he's taking it and as he steps into that water he just slips and the current takes him into the river. That's the last time we've seen or heard from him."

Lopez said family and friends are holding out hope that Hermond will be found safe, but it gets more difficult with each passing hour.

“It’s been extremely hard. He’s got so many friends. We’re all just trying to comfort each other,” said Lopez. “It’s hard to really even process it. I mean, you keep hope, keep hope alive, but the more time goes by the less hope you have.”

The missing man’s family released a statement to ABC7 News asking for privacy as they look for their loved one.

"We would like to thank you for your concern and support in the search for Eddison. Your kindness is appreciated, but we ask that you extend some privacy as we attempt to figure out the next steps. We are still working with government agencies as we remain hopeful that he will be found safe. Please continue to keep Eddison in your prayers,” the statement said.

When Bobby Barker heard someone was missing after the flood rushed Main Street, he knew what he had to do. The 32-year-old from Catonsville lives less than seven miles from the devastation in Old Ellicott City and is an experienced kayaker.

“I know the river really well and I might know some places that the Search and Rescue might not,” he said.

On Monday morning, Barker navigated the river for two hours. He had plans to go back into the water with four friends later on Monday afternoon.

“There’s multiple cars out there, debris everywhere. Everything from clothing to jewelry. Everything to people’s showcases. It’s all out there,” he said.

But no sign of Hermond.

The community is in disbelief but some say devastation like this is all too familiar.

“You’re out enjoying dinner on a holiday weekend, Memorial Day weekend and then next thing you know, you’re taken from a giant flood or whatever may have happened. It’s terrible,” said Carrie Brenner.

“It doesn’t surprise me that that could happen. I saw the devastation, I saw all the rain, I saw all the water, I saw different people trying to help rescue others,” said resident Robert Simmons.

People helped during the rushing water and will continue to help now that the storm is gone in the hopes of finding Hermond.

“It’s my river out there. I know it really well. If he’s out there, we’ll find him,” said Barker.

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