Thursday, July 9, 2015

Howard County Flood Information

Be careful: There have been two incidents of flooding in our area due to heavy rain, including a flash flood that led to a rescue from a stranded vehicle trapped by swift water from The Little Patuxent River near Savage Mill.

Stephens Road Flooding
The temporary flooding of Stephens Road on June 27th underscored the need for Howard County's project to raise the bridge out of the floodplain. That project is expected to begin preliminary work this summer and to be completed by the end of 2016.

The impact on traffic and the plans for any closures have not been announced yet.

For those interested in floodplain information from FEMA, you can go to Howard County's interactive map at:

Additional information is available from Howard County's FIRM page.

Some notes from the interactive DFIRM map shown above in the screenshot:
  • The low point of Stephens Road as it crosses the Hammond Branch floodplain is roughly 255 feet.
  • Most of our street is at an elevation of 345 feet.
  • The stormwater management pond is mostly at 325 feet.
  • The floodplain nearest to us ranges from 282 - 309 feet.
That should mean Autumn Walk is well out of the floodplain.

Gorman Road Flooding 7/6/15
On Monday, July 6th around 9 PM, Howard County Fire and Rescue responded to a 911 call for a vehicle stranded in flood water on Gorman Road between Foundry Street and Freestate Drive. One adult and two children were rescued from the car.

Howard County Government posted the following advice on their Facebook page:
As a REMINDER, the Department is urging residents if you come upon a flooded roadway, whether on foot or in a vehicle, TURN AROUND DON'T DROWN! 
  • Never attempt to drive or walk through a flooded road as the depth of the water is not always obvious and the road bed may be washed out under the water. 
  • Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard because people underestimate the force and power of water. 
  • A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult and reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles, causing loss of control and possible stalling. 
  • It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car and two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles, including SUV's and pickup trucks. 
  • At night, be especially cautious driving when it is harder to recognize flood dangers. 
  • If you come upon a barricade, remember they are there for your protection. Do not drive around the barricade, instead turn around and go the other way.

Route 1
As an aside, you can see that there are several points on Route 1 a few miles to the east of us that are only at 145 feet of elevation, notably the bridge south of MD-32 across the Little Patuxent, and the bridge across the Patuxent near Main Street Laurel.

The Patuxent River's water level is affected by the dam across Rocky Gorge Reservoir (just west of I-95 south of the MD-216 exit), which sometimes makes deliberate controlled releases.

Watershed Protection Fee Will Continue
In tangentially related news, the State of Maryland passed a bill lifting the mandate for local jurisdictions to collect a Watershed Protection Fee.

However, Howard County is still required by federal law to treat impervious surfaces such as parking lots.

With an FY15 budget shortfall of $15.8M, Howard County decided to continue the fee in FY16.

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