Mayor Jeff Snoots was in his Brunswick home when the rain began to fall.
In a short period of time, about 6 inches of rain fell on the southern Frederick County city, causing the area to flood.
Snoots immediately made his way to the city hall, where water was “gushing” into the basement, he said. Water will seep into the basement during heavy rain, but the intensity of water was unprecedented.
“I’ve never seen [water] rush like that,” Snoots said.
A couple of days later, more rain came. So did more flooding.
There were two back-to-back 100-year floods, said City Administrator David Dunn. A 100-year flood means there is a 1 in 100 chance of seeing a flood like Brunswick experienced in any given year.
The public works yard took a hit with the flood. A culvert ran under the parking lot of the public works building. There was so much water that it lifted the culvert out of the ground and washed away part of the parking lot, Dunn said.
Instead of a parking lot, all that was left was a giant hole.
West End Park also lost ground as water swept some of it away.
Brunswick’s budget was one of the hardest hit by the May floods, as the City Council had to pull $30,000 from funds to pay for mold mitigation. An additional $100,000 went to repairing a pipe at the public works yard.
The city received money from the state and will get FEMA reimbursement for some of the damage caused by flooding, Dunn said.
“We’re still recuperating,” Dunn said.
There was little personal property damage in the city. Some yards flooded on Petersville Road, which affected some home foundations, Dunn said, but overall many of the homes and houses escaped serious damage.
Going forward, the city will continue to mediate the damage left by floodwater. While they are repairing areas, or, in some cases like the public works yard, changing, Brunswick cannot rebuild its water system as if it will be hit by another massive flood, Dunn said.
“You could never afford it,” he said.
B urkittsville’s flood damage
Brunswick’s neighbor to the north, Burkittsville, saw more damage to personal property, such as flooded basements.
Former Mayor Paul Gilligan said he had about 3 to 4 feet in the basements of one of his properties. Others also suffered damage.
“Lost a heating system. It was a mess. It was underwater. Nothing you could do about it,” Gilligan said.
The town government also bore some responsibility for cleanup once the water receded, Gilligan said. Roads flooded and were damaged, with some holes as deep as 4 feet. The county helped by sending crews with rocks and other road materials to fill in the spots.
“The rains came, and they just kept going and going, and the amount of water, it was just rivers down the road. Roads were completely covered,” Gilligan said. “As a matter of fact, it was so dramatic to the point I went out just out of curiosity. And as I walked by down toward the driveway area on the farm, I kept hearing this rumbling sound. And I thought, ‘Oh, God, what’s that?’ So I got my spotlight, and walked out towards the road, and the road was completely gone.”
Fixing roads remains the main priority for the town a year after the 100-year flood, said Councilman John “Jad” Drake.
Gapland Road was one that the town is working to fix. They’ll follow FEMA standards, he said.
Drake’s basement also flooded, but in a place like Burkittsville, it is not unexpected.
“Burkittsville lays low, so it’s going to happen,” Drake said. “So we’re doing what we can do to control it.”
Even with Burkittsville being lower, the rain the town saw in May 2018 was unprecedented. Gilligan said he could not recall another time when it rained as much or at quite the intensity.
“Nothing like that. That was biblical in nature,” Gilligan said with a laugh. “Everyone was shocked with that one; we did not expect it. It was massive.”