ROCKVILLE, Md. — One year after a flash flood inundated the Rock Creek Woods Apartment complex in Rockville, Maryland, tenants are saying they want more to be done to protect them from another deadly flood.
On Sept. 1, 2021, water cascaded into the apartment complex on Twinbrook Parkway displacing 150 people. Melkin Daniel Cedillo, 19, drowned as he tried to rescue his mother from the rapidly rising water pouring into their basement unit.
Maria Santos described Cedillo as a humble young man. Santos says she used to speak to his mother, but since his death they have lost contact. Santos said she went days without sleeping after the flood because she felt like her family was in constant danger. She was forced to stay in a hotel for three months until her unit was deemed to be habitable. The Salvadoran immigrant says she still lives in fear, but financially cannot afford to move to another apartment complex.
WUSA9 was with Santos Thursday when she walked down to the basement of her building for the first time in a year.
"I feel fear, yes fear," Santos said. "We never know when tragedy could hit. Thirteen years living here and we had not seen anything like it."
Montgomery County officials deployed 35 solar power flood sensors in flood-prone sites across the county to alert residents sooner of potential dangers.
"Obviously the unfortunate death in September of last year was even more of a reason for us to expedite this project," Matt Miziorko, from Montgomery County Emergency Management, said. "We need to be able to understand when to shut roads down or understand when whatever levels get to high."
The sensors were provided by The U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate. The county's Department of Environmental Protection says 29 of those sensors are up and running, but the one intended to be near the Rock Creek Woods Apartment complex has yet to be installed.
"Some issues need to be settled with the landowner prior to the installation," the agency said.
The Rock Creek Woods management company told WUSA9 that they plan to move forward with the project.
"We are supportive of Montgomery County’s efforts to install flood sensors throughout the County to prevent another similar no-notice, weather-related event from harming anyone’s home or business," the building management wrote in a statement. "We’re pleased the County will install one on our property by the end of this month."
The management did not offer a reason for the delay in the sensor installation.
New tenants, like Hezekiah Hopkins, say they want to see action as soon as possible.
"Whoever is responsible can get it done, have the sensors installed so that when it happens the next time, because it is inevitable that history will repeat itself, we will be prepared," said Hopkins who was unaware of the tragic flooding.