No Rest for the Wet and Weary

By Steven Ginsberg and Robert Samuels
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Government officials prepared for evacuations of low-lying sections of the water-logged Washington region last night as record-setting rainfall continued and commuters, homeowners and federal agencies struggled to cope.

Several large federal offices remained closed. Local governments opened emergency command centers and sheltered more residents reeling from rains of historic magnitude. The silt-laden Potomac River neared flood stage, and other waterways verged menacingly on overflowing.

Fearing that Lake Needwood, north of Rockville, was breaching its leaking dam, Montgomery County officials early this morning began evacuating people living along Rock Creek below the dam, county spokeswoman Donna Bigler said.

As another day of downpours came to an end, the driving rain continued in spots, with one inch falling in 15 minutes in Annapolis shortly after 10 p.m., according to National Weather Service forecaster Andy Woodcock.

By yesterday afternoon, the sluggish system that had brought the record rainfall showed signs of heading out of the area last night.

But forecasters at the time pointed to a tropical system to the southeast that they said could help bring an additional three to five more inches of rain before all the storms dissipated. However, at 11 last night, the latest forecast indicated that no more than one to three additional inches remained in store, principally for northern and central Maryland.

Flash flooding was reported late last night in Rockville and in Harford County, Md. But radars showed areas of clearing on the western edges of the region.

From Friday morning through yesterday morning, 12.11 inches of rain fell at Reagan National Airport, according to unofficial tabulations.

"This amount of rain in four days should occur once every 200 years, and we just lived through it," said Jim Lee, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service. Forecasters warned that an additional couple of inches of rain would lead to even more severe flooding, debris and damage.

The impact of the storm was seen everywhere: Struck from behind on a rain-slick street, a taxicab swerved and crashed into McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon, at 24th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The 11 p.m. incident sent four people to a hospital.

In Frederick and Carroll counties, Maryland State Police searched until late into the night for two missing boys, 14 and 15, whose families feared they had been washed away by rising waters after venturing to a stream about a mile from their homes in Keymar, Md.

In Montgomery County, firefighters used ropes and flotation gear to rescue a man and woman from a car that stalled in standing water on Brighton Dam Road in Brookeville.

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