Reporting Meghan McCorkell
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. (WJZ)– Mandatory evacuations have been issued for both Port Deposit and Havre de Grace as water levels rise. The Conowingo Dam, opening more flood gates, is unleashing a torrent of water into towns downstream.
Meghan McCorkell reports.
The normal flow for the Susquehanna River is 10 feet. As of 11:30 a.m. Thursday, it was 30 feet. It is expected to crest at 35.8 feet– its highest level– Saturday at 8 a.m. The record is 36.83 feet during Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
That’s why people along the river are being told to get out now. The swollen Susquehanna River swallows up towns in its path.
“Now, they’re trying to get people out of here as quickly as they can,” Bill Brustman of Port Deposit said.
“The marina, on the other hand, may not be here when we come back,” said Laura Luongo, another resident of Port Deposit.
Sky Eye Chopper 13 flew over the Conowingo Dam, which could have 50 out of 53 flood gates open by Friday morning. Port Deposit is about seven miles below the Conowingo Dam.
It’s the first time that’s been done since Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
“If they open 20 more gates, it’s going to be a real mess,” said Pat Sterling of Port Deposit.
The water is already waist-deep near the river. A mandatory evacuation was ordered at 8 p.m. in Port Deposit. For those who didn’t leave, they’re on their own.
“We’re not going to risk our rescuers to go in and evacuate anyone after the mandatory has been issued,” Mayor Wayne Tome of Port Deposit said.
Rescue teams already pulled an elderly man out of the high waters.
Emergency officials in Havre de Grace are trying to avoid that situation, evacuating citizens from nursing homes. Police are going door-to-door warning people it’s time to leave.
“I had no idea there was a mandatory evacuation. I’m going have to get my act together and figure something out,” said Joe Satili, a resident of Havre de Grace.
“This may be one of the all time largest amounts of water to come down the Susquehanna River through this area,” said Dave Williams, a Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS official.
Despite that, some people aren’t leaving.
“If it gets to that first floor it’s got to go 10 feet. It ain’t going no 10 feet,” said one person.
Everyone is praying he’s right.
Forty-three of those floodgates are open as of Thursday night. Emergency officials say, at this point, they’re not sure how high the water will rise.
Harford County officials have set up an emergency hotline for the loved ones of those evacuated from nursing homes. The number is 1-888-756-7836.