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Some Marylanders Bracing For Flooding, While Others Remain Unfazed

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) -- Residents stocked up on sandbags and business owners braced their storefronts Friday as coastal flooding threatened parts of Maryland's western shore.

The storm preparations came as windswept floodwaters spilled into Baltimore's Inner Harbor, downtown Annapolis and Millers Island, among other low-lying areas, part of what forecasters warned could be one of the biggest tidal flooding events since Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

The National Weather Service issued a coastal flood warning for much of Maryland, including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Dorchester, Cecil, Harford, Kent, Prince George's, St. Mary's, Queen Anne's, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties, as well as Baltimore City.

In anticipation of the weather threats, the Maryland Department of Emergency Management raised its activation level to partial, its second-highest level. The Maryland National Guard staged troops and vehicles at its Easton and Salisbury armories in case the need for their help arises.

"We are asking all Marylanders and visitors to our state to take this weather serious and take precautions to remain safe, especially if you are in low-lying areas prone to flooding," Gov. Larry Hogan said. "We will continue to closely monitor the storm, and coordinate our response across state and local agencies throughout the weekend."

Forecasters predicted heavy rainfall and strong winds could produce significant flooding, particularly in parts of Maryland hugging the Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River and Atlantic Coast.

Rain from the east and southeast pushed water into the state's western shore. By Friday evening, the wind was expected to swing around out of the south and force water up the Chesapeake during the next high tide, potentially spilling water over both shores. While the rain is forecast to fade by early Saturday morning, winds are predicted to continue throughout the day.

Out of concern for public safety, several school districts across the region closed schools on Friday and local authorities urged residents to take steps to protect themselves and their property. In Baltimore City, for instance, the city provided sandbags to residents who live in flood-prone neighborhoods and offered them temporary parking spaces in several garages.

The abnormally high tides left the area surrounding City Dock in Annapolis under several feet of standing water. Though the water didn't rise as high as it did during Isabel, high tide Friday was approximately a little more than four feet shortly before noon. Despite traffic cones set up by police to block impassable streets, people could be seen wading -- at times even kayaking -- through the waist-deep water.

Among them was Mike, a lifelong Baltimore resident who only shared his first name. He told WJZ he happened to be in the neighborhood, so he decided to take advantage of the opportunity to stroll through the flooded but mostly vacant streets.

"It's interesting," Mike said. "I've never seen Annapolis like this before. So it was kind of sad and interesting to see it this way. ... I don't come to Annapolis, especially when they're calling for floods."

It was a slightly different story in Baltimore City, where tidal floodwaters lapped at streets and sidewalks along the waterfront at high tide but otherwise didn't appear to impact traffic or threaten any buildings.

Even though it looked like the city was spared the worst, Mayor Brandon Scott warned residents not to be complacent, particularly those who live in the Canton, Cherry Hill, Fells Point and Harbor East neighborhoods.

"We are experiencing flooding along Baltimore's waterfront. Residents in low-lying areas should move their vehicles to higher ground," Scott tweeted.

While space is available, city officials encouraged residents who live in those flood-prone neighborhoods to consider parking their vehicles at garages on Caroline Street, Eden Street and Central Avenue.

Some homes on Millers Island in Baltimore County weren't so fortunate. Flooding from the Chesapeake Bay and Back River left inches of standing water in the streets and sent some spilling into homes nearby.

One family who spoke with Mike Hellgren said they were staying positive, despite having standing water inside their home. They said they collected as many of their belongings as possible and moved them to a space where they could stay dry.

Another resident, 90-year-old Roy Upton, told WJZ he wasn't fazed by the storm. After all, the few inches of water was nothing compared to the high-water mark from Isabel in 2003.

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