Laurel opens dam gates, flooding forces evacuations

LAUREL, Md. (WUSA9) - Waves of water rushed through the center of Laurel, flooding Route 1 several feet deep. "We had to evacuate Main Street," said Mayor Craig Moe, "about several hundred people."

"This morning was kinda hectic because police just knocked on our door," said one resident of Selborne House senior apartments downtown. Nearly 200 elderly residents returned to their senior apartments on main street after waiting out the water nearly five hours in a community center.

Thankfully, no one was hurt, but Fred Frederick suffered quite a loss. After moving more than 200 cars from his dealership nearly two dozen still got trapped in flood waters. "Those cars once they're in flood they are of no value," he said.

"I can't stress enough the dam is safe and there are no cracks," said WSSC spokesperson Lyn Riggins.

Late Wednesday night, crews with Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission noticed rising water seeping through a construction joint at the Duckett Dam. They opened the flood gates to relieve some of the pressure.

"People say if you knew the rain was coming why didn't release water ahead of time but we have to keep enough water in there because we have to provide drinking water to 2 million people," explained Regains, "so it's a delicate balance you have to leave enough water but no too much that it will put pressure on the dam."

WSSC will periodically open those flood gates over the weekend to maintain safe levels in the dam.

Route One will remain closed until the water recedes.

Businesses impacted by the flood need to have their facilities inspected before they can reopen. Business owners will need to call 302-725-5300 x2238

The evacuation order for Laurel residents was lifted at 8 a.m. and residents can return to their homes.


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