As they began to clean up Tuesday, slogging gallons of muddy water out of inundated basements, scraping nearly a foot of sediment off Main Street, the people who live in this historic town were sure of two things:
Never had they seen Rock Run rise so fast and so high.
And, even with the damage wrought, they couldn't have been much luckier.
Port Deposit got pounded Monday by several ferocious hours of a storm that dumped between six and eight inches of rain across the far northeast corner of the state. At times, one woman said, the deluge was so loud "you couldn't hear yourself talking."
Most of the town escaped unscathed. But at the far end of Main Street, where Rock Run cascades down a hill toward the Susquehanna River, nothing could contain the torrent. Within minutes, the creek rose from four feet to 14 and blew out of its banks.
"It was just a wall of water come rolling at you," Police Chief Mark Tomlin recounted.
People stood on front porches screaming for help. Water heaters, trash cans, chunks of asphalt and other debris floated by. One council member swam across the road and then rescued neighbors by canoe.
"Lifelong residents . . . stated they've never seen Rock Run do anything like this," Tomlin said.
The houses hit the hardest are at the bottom of the hill, where Main meets Granite Street. One back porch collapsed. Siding was punctured or ripped off.
William Benjamin lives two doors up the street, with a model train collection that ran wall to wall in his basement. "His life's work," according to Mayor Rob Flayhart, who was sweating and hauling alongside his constituents throughout the day.
One glimpse through Benjamin's broken basement windows was all Flayhart needed. "Ruined," he said, shaking his head. Towers lay toppled, engines littered with leaves and branches. Parts of the track looked as if there had been a real-life mudslide.
Next door, Gary and Rhoda Detweiler and a small army of friends were bailing 12 feet of basement water and vacuuming up more on the first floor as best they could. They tried to keep the devastation in perspective.
"It's a wonder [the house is] not sitting over there," Gary Detweiler said, pointing to the other side of the creek.
And the woman who rents the house, while still shellshocked, was not hurt. "Everybody is safe," Rhoda Detweiler stressed.
Indeed -- despite the flash flooding throughout the region -- no serious injuries were reported, and no deaths. Cecil County workers rescued about 32 people from homes and stranded cars Monday, and three people nearly drowned, the Associated Press reported.
Across the Susquehanna and a few miles downstream, one house in Havre de Grace may have to be condemned. It's right off Juniata Street, which runs the length of town and, through sheer volume of rainfall, became its own swiftly flowing river Monday evening. One boy managed to body-surf down the street for several blocks.
The waterline remained visible on the chimney wall of Pat Moore's home more than 12 hours later. But it was the gaping pit in her front yard that had friends stopping by with condolences.
The subterranean front wall of the 70-year-old house had collapsed on both sides during the worst of the storm. The ground dramatically caved in, taking Moore's birdbath with it.
"My daughter called me and said, 'You've got to come home. Our front yard is in the basement,' " Moore said. Not only that, the trauma twisted a major stone foundation pillar and visibly shifted the porch roof.
Whether four generations of Moores can stay put depends on a building inspector's assessment.
"What are you going to have to do, tear it down?" a passerby asked quietly.
"We don't know," Moore replied. She paused, surveying the scene. "Ain't that something."