2021 | Weather

UPDATED: Man, 19, killed in flooding Wednesday 

Schools dismiss early; some roads closed; hundreds without power 

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The basement floor of Congressional Towers Apartments in Rockville was severely damaged by flooding on Wednesday.

Photos by Dan Schere

This story was updated at 11:50 a.m. on Sept. 1, 2021, to include the latest information 

See related story: After fatal flooding, some say apartment complexes were aware of problem

Flooding from the remnants of Tropical Depression Ida brought heavy rain and flooding to Montgomery County early Wednesday morning and killed a 19-year-old man. 

The man was found dead early Wednesday in a basement apartment in Rockville that flooded, Montgomery County police spokeswoman Shiera Goff told reporters on Wednesday. She did not identify the victim.  

Goff said one person is still unaccounted for. Montgomery County Fire & Rescue said about 150 people from two residential buildings in Rockville were displaced from their homes during the storm. 

Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Chief Scott Goldstein told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday that water rose to levels as high as seven feet in the apartments. 

“People were overwhelmed and inundated very quickly with this situation,” he said. 

Montgomery County Public Schools dismissed students 2 ½ hours early on Wednesday due to the conditions. 

Wootton High School in Rockville was without power on Wednesday and is dismissing at 11 a.m., Montgomery County Public Schools spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat. 

Montgomery County Fire & Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer posted on Twitter that around 4:30 a.m. multiple residents of basement apartments were stuck due to flooding in the hallways. Fire & Rescue units performed water rescues, and were forced to break windows and doors, he wrote. 

Later Wednesday morning at Congressional Towers on Congressional Lane in Rockville, portions of the parking lot had standing water and were covered in mud from flooding. Some cars had been displaced, covered in mud or damaged. Additionally, the drywall on the basement floor of one building was torn. 

Sabi Nagarajan, a basement floor resident of the flooded building, said the sound of water rushing in woke him around 4 a.m. Within five minutes, water had come to his thighs. 

“At the time, we couldn’t think because the water was quickly rushing in. And within five minutes we had to rush out,” he said. 

Nagarajan, who lives with his wife and 9-year-old daughter, said they evacuated and called 911. The force of the water made it difficult to open the door to the stairwell, he said. 

Nagarajan estimated that there are between 15 and 20 units on the basement floor of his unit, many of which were flooded. The building management is trying to make arrangements for temporary housing for displaced residents, he said. And neighbors on other floors have offered to provide housing. 

A representative from Polinger Company, which manages Congressional Towers, could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday. 

Farhan Putra, who lives with his parents and brother on the basement floor, said his mother woke him around 3:30 a.m. because water was coming into their unit. At first it was 1 to 2 inches high, but it came to his knees within five minutes, he said. 

“It was something like, out of a movie or something. My mom was screaming at us, ‘Make sure you get everything. Make sure everything important’s off the top of the desk. Get your phone. Get your wallet. Run out the back door,’” he said. 

Putra said the flooding flipped his refrigerator over, damaged his computer, left dirt throughout the apartment and put holes in the drywall. 

“We’re contacting our closest friends from around here to find temporary housing. We contacted our insurance company to let them know what’s going on, and they’re gonna help us out with finding a new apartment and covering some costs,” he said. 

Basement floor resident Theresa Dimes said by 3 a.m., the water was as high as her waist. It rushed in so quickly it “looked like a river,” she said. 

“I thank God I’m living, because I was asleep,” she said. 

Someone on Twitter, who identified  himself as Parker Walton, said he was trapped in Congressional Towers Apartments, and posted a photo of a flooded room. He later posted that he and his wife had evacuated, and thanked firefighters. 

The county’s Department of Health and Human Services has set up a reception center to help residents at the Mid-County Community Recreation Center at 2004 Queensguard Road in the Layhill area, according to a press release. The Red Cross and county employees will be available. The site will be open until 10 p.m.

The flooding closed some roads in the county, including Westlake Drive and Tuckerman Lane in Cabin John, according to Montgomery County police. Sligo Creek Parkway, Beach Drive and the intersection of Seven Locks Road and Bradley Boulevard were also closed. 

At 6:20 a.m. Wednesday, Pepco was reporting that there were 525 customers without power in Montgomery County. By 10:20 a.m., that number had fallen to 278 customers without power, according to the utility. 

The National Weather Service was reporting at 6:20 a.m. Wednesday that the storms had produced 2 to 4 inches of rain across the greater Washington region. Montgomery County remained under a flood warning until 12:30 p.m. 

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com