Smith said another person had told the woman, who was apparently homeless, to leave the area because of rising waters about 9:30 a.m., but she did not do so. Smith said police had not identified the woman.
Ernest Moran, who lives in the camp, said about 15 people live in tents at the site and he escaped the rising waters with only his dog and a knapsack. Debris from the tent city was seen floating in the floodwaters from the Patuxent.
Emergency crews also responded to reports of flooded roads and calls for water rescues from across the region.
Laurel city officials encouraged those in homes and businesses north of Main Street to leave voluntarily as officials brace for significant flooding, and also opened a temporary shelter.
Mayor Craig Moe said the reason for the flooding is Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission officials releasing water through various dams to prevent them from breaking. He said he had “some concerns” that more water wasn’t released in anticipation of Wednesday night’s storm.
“I think that’s a question we’re going to have to ask WSSC after the fact,” he said.
WSSC said in a statement that officials “released water from Duckett Dam yesterday; however the amount of rainfall was significantly greater than what was predicted.”
When the Patuxent River enters the Triadelphia Reservoir, the water level is typically 2.4 feet. On Thursday, the WSSC said, that figure was 10.5 feet.
That, in essence, is why officials release water from various dams, causing flooding along the river’s path. If they don’t, officials say, the dams might break.
“When our reservoirs get really, really full, we have to let some of the water out,” WSSC spokesman I.J. Hudson said. “This is what we do when there’s too much water.”
Some Laurel residents, however, appeared unconcerned Thursday afternoon about the possibility of more sever flooding.
On Avondale Street at the entrance to Riverfront Park, several neighbors gathered to snap photos and watch the Patuxent River overtake benches and running paths. The police had been by earlier to tell them they might want to consider evacuating. None planned to leave.
“The highest I have ever seen this water was 1972 during Hurricane Agnes, and it got to the top of the street,” said Walter Boyle, 46, a plumber. “I’m not seeing what the big to-do is.”
Boyle said he had come home from work after neighbors called him about the flooding “just to make sure we had no issues.” He said he expected the water to rise significantly, but not to a degree that would threaten his home.
“We’ve seen it a little worse, and we’ve certainly seen it not as bad,” he said.