CECIL COUNTY — Heavy rain from Wednesday through the early-morning hours of Thursday flooded some areas of Cecil County - resulting in first responders evacuating approximately 80 residents at two mobile home parks in and near Rising Sun, according to emergency officials.
Hardest hit by flooding caused by hours of precipitation associated with the remnants of Hurricane Ida was Sun Valley Trailer Park, a community consisting of 30 trailers on Sun Valley Circle, off Walnut Street, reported Chief Matt Blakeley of the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun.
"It backs up to a creek. The water was five to six feet above the bank. Water that got inside the trailers was six inches high to three feet high, depending on where the trailers were located in the park," Blakeley said, specifying that mobile homes on the northern side of the park, closest to the creek, took on the most water.
CFCRS and Water Witch Volunteer Fire Company (Port Deposit) were dispatched to the trailer park at 9:10 p.m. on Wednesday, after Rising Sun Police Department officers had arrived at the swamped community and started assisting residents.
"It was high-speed water. Decks were dislodged. Propane tanks and heating fuel tanks were floating away," Blakeley outlined, before reporting that first responders notified the Maryland Department of the Environment to conduct assessments.
Although the responding fire departments were equipped with inflatable boats and swift-water rescue team members, the volunteer emergency workers were able to evacuate approximately 70 residents from their homes without using the vessels, he reported.
In some cases, first responders simply escorted people from their trailers on foot because those particular mobile homes are situated at the southern end of the park, farthest from the overflowing creek, Blakeley said.
As for the trailers at the northern end of the community, he added, evacuees held onto a taught rope that served as a safety line as they walked through the water from their homes to dry land while accompanied by first responders.
"The water there was pretty high, maybe about three feet, and it was moving pretty quickly," Blakelely said.
The evacuation took residents Sharon Davis and Jason Morrison by surprise.
"I saw flashlights in my driveway and then I heard a loud knock on the door. We were told (by first responders) we had to evacuate. The water was up to our porch," Morrison said.
The floodwater rose as a high as the driver's seat in Davis' 2006 Pontiac 66, which she was unable to start on Thursday because of the water damage.
The evacuation took more than two hours to complete, according to Blakeley. No one was injured, he reported.
Roughly 20 residents in that community, including Davis and Morrison, were put up in an area hotel through the Cecil County Department of Social Services, according to emergency workers, who noted that, for safety reasons, the power company turned off electricity to the trailer park. The remaining residents are being assisted by relatives and friends.
Davis, Morrison and numerous other residents returned to the trailer park on Thursday morning to remove sopping wet rugs, carpet and other water-damaged items from their dwellings and to gather clothing, toiletries and such for their stays at the area hotel or with assisting relatives and friends.
As of late Thursday afternoon, information regarding how many residents have been displaced, longterm, was unavailable. At least one trailer in that park had a condemnation notice affixed to its front door, as of late Thursday morning.
Affected by floodwaters to a lesser degree was the Octoraro Mobile Home Park near Rising Sun. CFCRS was dispatched to that community at 2:15 a.m. on Thursday, after a couple of residents complained about rising water encroaching their homes, fire officials reported.
"The water was pretty deep and fast moving. The water came up to the trailers, but no water was inside the trailers," Blakeley explained.
First responders evacuated an unspecified number of residents from the nine trailers in the community, fire officials said. Once again, the use of inflatable rescue vessels was not necessary because emergency workers were able to escort the residents from their homes on foot, fire officials added.
All of those displaced residents are being assisted by family and friends, according to Blakeley. As of late Thursday morning, the floodwater had receded from the trailers; however, it still covered an access road to the community, he reported.
Ida's passage saw the Big Elk Creek hop its banks and flood sections of downtown Elkton. Though much of the flooding had receded early in the afternoon on Thursday, evidence of the water was present on many roads, including Bridge and Main Streets.
"I think this one hit us all a bit by surprise," said Elkton Mayor Rob Alt.
Alt noted that the water in Elkton was higher than he has seen it since Hurricane Floyd hit the county in 1999.
Flooding has been – and continues to be, if Thursday's flooding is any indication – a recurring problem for the town for decades. Due largely to being located, as Alt put it, at the end of the "sliding board."
"Close to 10 inches of rainwater came out of Pennsylvania," Alt said about the flooding. "It stops right here in Elkton. Our residents and our business community have dealt with this problem for years, and they understand [the problem]."
According to Alt, the town's first priority is to get the affected roads cleaned and opened back up to traffic. As soon as that is accomplished, the town will look to assist businesses hurt by the flooding; namely, several businesses on the south side of Main Street and across the creek in Marina Park and Bridge Street Plazas.
"Our intent is to help our community in any way we can," Alt said.