ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (AP) — Historic, low-lying Ellicott City was ravaged by floodwaters Saturday night, killing at least one person and causing devastating damage to businesses, officials in Maryland said.
Andy Barth, a spokesman for Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, told The Associated Press that two other people were missing after the town received nearly 7 inches of rain, including nearly 6 inches between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The body of a woman was recovered from the Patapsco River early Sunday, Kittleman told WBAL-AM.
Gov. Larry Hogan was touring the damage Sunday and declared a state of emergency, which will allow greater aid coordination and assistance.
Videos posted on social media showed floodwaters rushing down the town's Main Street, which slopes toward the river, and sweeping away cars. Some vehicles came to rest on top of each other. Kittleman said the devastation was the worst he'd seen in 50 years living in the county, including Hurricane Agnes in 1972, which caused the river to overflow its banks.
"This is by far the worst devastation Ellicott City has seen in decades," Kittleman told WBAL-AM.
Barth said all of the businesses along Main Street sustained extensive damage.
"In almost every case catastrophic, just gutted," he said. "Everything in it has been swept out. All of the glass is broken, many of the sidewalks are out. It's hard to believe."
Barth said bystanders helped rescue some motorists who were at risk of being swept away while inside their cars, forming a human chain in at least one instance.
Ellicott City was established in 1772 as a mill town along the Patapsco, and many 18th and 19th-Century buildings were still intact before Saturday's floods. Once a home to mill workers, in recent decades it has become known for restaurants, art galleries, antique shops and nightlife. Main Street slopes dramatically toward the river and has long been susceptible to flooding.
The county courthouse and government headquarters are located in Ellicott City but are on higher ground.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.