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Looking Back: It’s Been 10 Years Since Isabel Devastated Maryland

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Jessica Kartalija 3 Jessica Kartalija
Jessica Kartalija joined the Eyewitness News team during the summer of...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Hard to believe it’s been a decade since Isabel caused major damage in Maryland. For those who lived through it, it kind of feels like yesterday.

Jessica Kartalija has a look back.

“We had a flood back in the 70s, but none of them have ever been nowhere near the magnitude of this,” said Charlie Cook.

Cook takes WJZ on a canoe tour through his Dundalk neighborhood. His three cars are underwater and his house is badly damaged.

“It’s pretty amazing. In a sense, it’s a catastrophe. In another a sense, it’s neat to see Mother Nature’s work. It’s amazing what water can do,” he said.

That was 10 years ago. Isabel was one of the most damaging storms to impact the mid-Atlantic states, turning entire Maryland neighborhoods into rivers.

“That’s a friend of mine, their house right there. See him standing on the porch?” a man asked.

“Just after midnight, it looked like we had escaped unscathed. Then shortly after, we started getting panicked calls from Baltimore County saying they needed help getting residents evacuated from the Bowleys Quarters area,” said Ed McDonough, MEMA.

Ed McDonough had been with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency just two weeks when the storm hit.

“We learned lessons from Isabel of the effect of a storm of that magnitude was much different than the models had shown. So the weather service and other federal agencies revamped their models based on that,” said McDonough.

“That whole first floor there is underwater,” a man pointed out.

Tides ran as high as eight feet above normal along the Chesapeake Bay, swamping Baltimore and Annapolis. Record tides flooded the Inner Harbor and Fells Point.

“My friend’s apartment on Thames Street, there’s two feet of water in his living room,” a woman said.

The storm was a Category 5 at its strongest. It hit the Outer Banks as a Category 2. Some parts saw between 3 and 15 inches of rain. Winds reached about 35 miles per hour, with gusts around 65 miles per hour at times.

In the wake of Isabel, the entire state of Maryland was declared a disaster area.

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