ELKTON — Now that the water from Tropical Storm Isaias has receded the clean up begins.
Arriving Tuesday morning the storm dropped more than six inches of rain in some places according to the National Weather Service at Mt. Holly N.J. That rain fell fast and hard, creating flash flooding as storm drains fell behind and creeks and streams left their banks.
Elkton Mayor Rob Alt got a look Wednesday morning at some of the damaged homes and businesses.
“In some areas the water was as high as it was for Floyd,” Alt said, referring to the Sept. 1999 hurricane that battered Elkton and much of Cecil County.
Jen Lyall, spokeswoman for Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy, said he toured the affected towns Tuesday and Cecil County’s Department of Emergency Services did likewise Wednesday. What each found will decide if the county will ask Gov. Larry Hogan to declare a state of emergency.
While the water may be gone Alt said there’s clean up to be done, which is why Howard Street and Delaware Avenue were the last to re-open to traffic.
“We rely on the (Maryland State Highway Administration) to clean Delaware Avenue. They’ve got to get the heavy equipment out to get the big logs and debris under the bridge,” he said.
However Alt credits the town public works department for its proactive stance, which helped.
“Two days ago public works went out and cleaned every storm drain,” Alt said. “That helped with the volume of water.”
Melissa Cook-MacKenzie, North East town administrator, also said while Isaias was not as bad as Floyd, that’s not to minimize the damage sustained by residents and businesses on West Cecil and Washington Streets.
“It’s devastating,” Cook-MacKenzie said. That’s where swift water rescue teams were called in to evacuate people as North East Creek invaded. “Just the clean up is going to be a challenge.”
At the same times as the rescues the town was also dealing with a loose propane tank. That was eventually captured.
“In the past we’ve lost bridges. It’s been a lot worse but this time the water did not come up as high as I’ve seen it,” she added.
Vicky Rinkerman, town administrator in Port Deposit, was shocked at how much North East flooded.
“Those little creeks get overwhelmed so quickly,” Rinkerman observed. In a town that is used to flooding, Rinkerman said Tuesday’s deluge was the same as others in the past. The water washed from Rock Run and points above the town, across Main Street and into the Susquehanna River. To her knowledge aside from mud there’s been no property damage. However Port Deposit is not letting its guard down yet.
Rinkerman said now town officials are monitoring the storm as it moves north east because whatever falls into the Susquehanna watershed in Pennsylvania and New York rolls down river to Port Deposit through the crest gates on the Conowingo Dam.
“Depending on how much they get dumped on and if it stalls determines it,” Rinkerman said.
Cook-MacKenzie will also be watching.
“We’re at the end of that line and our creeks can’t take everything in New York and Pennsylvania,” she said. Along with the rainfall tides and wind are factors too.
Perryville Mayor Bob Ashby couldn’t say enough about how pleased he was with the response from town employees before, during and after the storm struck. Ashby felt the town was prepared for whatever Tropical Storm Isaias would deliver including large scale flooding from Mill Creek.
Residents have been advised to avoid contact with Mill Creek until further notice for fear that the waters are contaminated because of a storm-related sewage overflow.
Susan Smith, chief of the Port Deposit Police, was also grateful for the residents in her town. She reports that residents cut up and removed at least 5 trees that fell along Granite Avenue, Race Street and Jacob Tome Highway long before state or county crews could have arrived.
Delmarva Power Company had 11,000 of its 46,068 Cecil County customers without power at the height of the storm. However by Thursday morning all had been restored. Choptank Electric, which has 3,000 customers in southern Cecil County, had no reported outages here Wednesday.
North East residents who are now cleaning out affected homes should contact town hall for help in getting the sodden items hauled away, Cook-MacKenzie said. Call 410-287-5801 extension 102 for assistance.
If a state of emergency is declared it could mean financial assistance to recover money spent during the storm and a short window of time afterward.
“Depending on what the governor does ... if he declares a state of emergency we will go after funds,” Cook-MacKenzie said.