Victims blame operators at Rocky Gorge Dam for Laurel flooding

As the rushing waters of the Patuxent River slipped over its banks and swamped nearby parking lots full of cars in Laurel, it was like turning back the clock some 42 years.
 
"Well, it reminded me of back in '72 when Agnes went through when we had numerous weekends of rain,” said David Shaffer. “That building was three-quarters under water.  Now this morning, it was probably waist-high when I got here at 6:30 this morning."
 
At Fred Frederick's used car lot along Route 1, workers surveyed the damage to 23 cars, which will now cost the dealer tens of thousands of dollars to replace, and he has no doubt who is responsible for his loss.
 
"The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission," he said emphatically.
 
The commission controls the flood gates on nearby Rocky Gorge Dam, and it threw open seven of them when the area got more than six inches of rain over a span of about 24 hours.
 
Businesses downstream along the Patuxent only got an hour's notice before the water, which was released flooded their property.
 
"Their response is, 'We're not in the flood control business', and maybe they're not, but they're in the  flood manufacturing business,” said Frederick, “and not they've not done it once, they've done it several times."
 
But this time, according to a representative of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, they had no choice.
 
We're told the commission partially opened those gates on Monday, and then opened them further just before midnight last night when erosion began to threaten some of the dam's supports.
 
 
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