[Rachael J. Golden, The Baltimore Sun]
It was a warm and humid Thursday afternoon in 2003 when it became apparent that Hurricane Isabel was making its way to Baltimore. By the evening rush hour, the city’s streets were deserted. Strong gusts tossed traffic signals. The winds howled overnight.
Friday morning dawned clear. The rains had stopped but the damage reports began mounting.
The storm that arrived Sept. 18 and 19, 2003, lashed Baltimore and Annapolis and caused their harbors to overflow.
“Thames Street could have passed for the Thames River yesterday morning as the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel washed into downtown Baltimore,” The Baltimore Sun reported. “From Canton to Fells Point to downtown, a storm surge created the worst flooding in memory and led to at least 24 water rescues by city firefighters. Water pushed to the front door of the Maryland Science Center, flooded hotel rooms and turned major thoroughfares — including Pratt and Light streets — into rivers better suited to canoes than cars. … Ducks and fish swam where people once walked, and police officers on bicycles struggled through water that came to the top of their tires.”
Eastern Baltimore County at Bowleys Quarters flooded. The storm surge damaged hundreds of homes there, as well as on the Eastern Shore. Numerous beaches eroded.
“Repair crews worked overtime to restore electricity to the more than 1.27 million households that lost power in the state — the worst outage Maryland has ever seen, officials from the state’s two major utilities said,” The Sun reported. “The damage was particularly striking considering many officials and forecasters said Isabel had spared Maryland its worst as it lost strength Thursday and passed to the north and west.”
Maryland reported losses of $820 million.