Woman found in Laurel flood waters identified
Updated: February 1, 2013 - 03:01 pm
Police have identified the woman killed Thursday when flood waters swept through a homeless camp near the Patuxent River.
The cause of death for 26-year-old Anifa Kiwanuka will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.
A Municipal Civil Emergency was declared in Laurel just before noon due to the threat of flooding from the release of water from an area dam, forcing portions of the city's historic downtown to be evacuated.
Town officials say that projected releases from the T. Howard Duckett Dam have increased, which will lead to flooding along the Patuxent River from Interstate 95 near Laurel downstream.
The water rose quickly and overtook an encampment of homeless people hidden in the woods near Route 198. By late morning, rescue workers had to move in to pull out those who found themselves trapped.
"You couldn't even hear it coming," one of the men in the camp, Ernest, said. "You just wake up, look outdoors and see a bunch of water and it kept rising and rising."
Another person said people refer to the camp as the “death camp” because people have reportedly died at the site before because of exposure.
Ernest said that he and his friend were asleep in their tent when flood waters began to rise at about 3 a.m., and by sunrise, they decided to leave for higher ground. When they looked back, all the tents were underwater.
Another man who lived at the camp, Mateo, out of the about 21 people who regularly stay at the camp, all but five went to a shelter to avoid Wednesday's storm. When the flood came, he says he got separated from the woman who died and another friend.
"She doesn't like to go to the shelter," Mateo said. "She would rather stay with us."
The National Weather Service has extended a Flood Warning for extreme western Anne Arundel County, extreme southeastern Howard County and extreme eastern Prince George's County through 6:30 p.m. due to the the threat.
The alert says that releases from the Duckett Dam have gradually increased through the late morning, and that the increase in the level of the Patuxent River will be significant enough to cause flooding for several hours.
Washington Suburban Sanitary Officials said on their Facebook page that higher-than-expected rainfall raised the levels of the Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge reservoirs. That led to the need to open the floodgates.
WSSC officials said that the level of the Patuxent River entering the Triadelphia Reservoir reached 10.5 feet Thursday, more than four times its normal level.
Areas downstream near the Little Patuxent River, including Crofton, Bowie and Upper Marlboro, may see an increased risk of significant flooding.
Laurel Mayor Craig Moe said on ABC7 News at Noon that they're working with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to monitor just how much water needs to be released from the dam.
"They've still got a lot of water to dump out, which is going to cause a lot of concern and issues," Moe said.
Laurel city officials say that the Robert J. DiPietro Community Center has been opened as an evacuation center. It's located at 7901 Cypress St. in Laurel.
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