County Comment: County responds to flood emergency

County Comment
County responds to flood emergency
by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

Washington County emergency responders saved 8 lives through water rescues during the 24 hours from June 27-28.
Three persons were rescued from the flooded Antietam Creek at Funkstown Thursday around 11 a.m. Rescues began in the early morning hours, with 2 people rescued by boat near Leitersburg and 3 others rescued from high water in the Sharpsburg area.
Poffenberger Road between U.S. Alternate 40 and Maryland Route 65 was closed to traffic due to rescue activities, and was closed for about 24 hours because of storm damage.
A Red Cross shelter had been established at its headquarters on Conrad Court and operated for about 12 hours. The shelter served only one person.
The Washington County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which was partially activated Tuesday night, was deactivated on Wednesday afternoon.
Eight damage assessment teams from the Division of Public Works measured structural damage to roads and bridges. Road damage was assessed in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Temporary patching of roads took place beginning Thursday the 29th. Further evaluation was to be made once waters have completely receded from roadways, but at least $275,000 in damages were assessed on one stretch of roadway in the Southern portion of the County.
Stone Arch bridges over the Antietam and Conococheague Creeks fared well, according to Public Works Director Gary Rohrer. None of the tributary bridges were completely obstructed by debris, and cleanup efforts will began on the 29th in the most critical areas where debris had piled up around bridges.
The pedestrian bridge over the Antietam at Devil's Backbone Park is closed to foot traffic due to damage. Rohrer said floating debris gave the structure a "major hit", and personnel on the scene reported hearing bridge timbers crack. The foot bridge has been closed to the public but the dam at that location did not sustain major damage, reports indicated.
Thirty-six residents were evacuated from the mobile home park at Funkstown during the morning hours, and a County Commuter bus was on standby for that operation. Emergency Management officials were advised citizens to stay out of the creeks and the Potomac River during the emergency situation. High water signs posted in hazardous locations did not deter some motorists, according to reports received in the EOC. Motorists should always stay away from high water areas and not drive through moving water on roadways.
County Administrator Rod Shoop thanked those departments and organizations that responded well to the emergency. The Red Cross, Washington County Health Department, RACES, the Sheriff's Department, Division of Public Works and Division of Fire and Emergency Services staffed the EOC.
The Emergency Operations Center is activated in time of public emergency, and serves to coordinate efforts of all agencies involved toward the common goal of public safety.