HURLEY, Va. (AP) — The remnants of Hurricane Ida blew into New England on Wednesday, dumping rain and causing floods that prompted hundreds of people to flee or be rescued from damaged homes in Maryland and Virginia. A teenager was killed and two people were unaccounted for in the storm’s wake, and some schools in the storm’s path closed early.
Emergency officials rushed to evacuate about 3,000 people downstream from a dam near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday after hours of heavy rains triggered plans to ensure safety of downstream residents. Cambria County emergency management director and 911 center head Art Martynuska said the water level at the Wilmore dam reached the height that required evacuation.
People living below the nearby Hinckston Run Dam also might have to be evacuated, he said, as drenching downpours inundated rivers, streams and creeks. The National Weather Service had predicted these floods, saying steep terrain and even city streets were particularly vulnerable in a band of severe weather from the Appalachians into Massachusetts.
Flash flooding knocked about 20 homes off their foundations and washed several trailers away in Virginia’s mountainous western corner, where about 50 people were rescued and hundreds were evacuated. News outlets reported that one person was still unaccounted for in the small mountain community of Hurley.
Water had almost reached the ceilings of basement units when crews arrived at an apartment complex in Rockville, Maryland on Wednesday. A 19-year-old was found dead, another person was missing and about 200 people from 60 apartments near Rock Creek were displaced, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said Wednesday.
“In many years I have not seen circumstances like this,” Goldstein said.
Maryland schools planned to close early ahead of the weather in the city of Baltimore and Howard and Harford counties.
The old mining town of Hurley, Virginia, where one person was unaccounted for, was built in a narrow draw between two mountains where Lester Fork flows into Knox Creek. It has been badly damaged by floods before. Two shelters were set up for the people displaced, the Buchanan County sheriff’s office said.
The remnants of the hurricane that devastated parts of southern Louisiana and Mississippi were forecast to dump rain from the central Appalachians into New England on Wednesday, with up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) possible in spots from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts.
Ida became a post-tropical storm Wednesday, losing its swirling center, but more severe weather and even tornadoes were in the forecast, with a tornado watch issued for the Appalachians through western Virginia and northern North Carolina.
The forecast also warned of significant and life-threatening flash flooding, especially in cities and areas of steep terrain, and major river flooding was predicted from northern West Virginia through New Jersey, particularly in the Monongahela, Potomac, Susquehanna, Delaware, and lower Hudson river basins.
The Virginia National Guard has been helping with the flood response, with 10 soldiers with tactical trucks staging at the state Department of Emergency Management command post in Hurley and helping people get to safety, the guard said in a news release. Another 30 soldiers were expected to be ready to respond Wednesday morning with trucks capable of transporting people in high water and chain-saw teams for clearing debris.
Tropical Storm Larry was strengthening and moving quickly westward after forming off the coast of Africa earlier Wednesday. Forecasters predicted it would rapidly intensify in a manner similar to Ida, becoming a major hurricane with top wind speeds of 120 mph (193 kph) by Saturday. Kate remained a tropical depression and was expected to weaken without threatening land.
For breaking news delivered to you, subscribe to WFXR’s breaking news email list