About 85 people were stuck on a MARC train bound for Brunswick for several hours during Tuesday night's storm.
The train, which departed from D.C., was delayed from reaching its destination from about 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. due to high winds and flooding. Passengers were asked to evacuate the first level of the double-decker cars as a precaution when flooding water threatened to envelope the train's exterior steps. After waiting for hours for the flooding to subside, the train was finally able to move at a walking-pace into the Brunswick station.
Around 7 p.m., as the train reached Point of Rocks, an announcement came over the speaker system reporting that the train would remain there for about an hour to wait out high winds, according to passenger Syed Ali, of Boonsboro.
"That hour turned into two hours," he said. "Then two and a half hours."
The storm cell moved into the Frederick area with intense rainfall around 7:40 p.m., according to Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services Battalion Chief David Barnes.
"Fire rescue started being dispatched to numerous vehicles being stranded in high water," Barnes said. "Initially the calls were surrounded in the Frederick City area. However, as the rain continued and the river started to swell out in the county, it became a county-wide problem."
The MARC train started moving and making its way toward Brunswick after its delay in Point of Rocks, Ali said, but it stopped around 10:25 p.m. between 2 and 4 miles away from the Brunswick station.
That's when the Frederick County Emergency Call Center started receiving calls for the train being unable to move along the tracks due to high flooding, Barnes said. The train tracks are within 20 feet of the Potomac River and water flooded up to the bottom step of the first deck of the train, according to eye-witness accounts.
"This is a rainfall in an amount in such a rapid period that we haven't seen for many years," Barnes said. "The Brunswick area, with the river, can typically flood with strong rains. But this was an extremely intense, abnormal storm for the area."
Though the water never flooded into the interior of the train, the passengers were asked to move to the second deck as a precaution.
"It was pretty surreal," Ali said. "It was worrisome, obviously. You're going from the bottom floor to the top floor. You don't know if the water is actually that high. We weren't sure if the water was rising still or if we were in any type of danger at that point."
Once emergency crews arrived at the scene, they were faced with the decision of whether to evacuate the train.
"In conjunction with CSX [Brunswick] and MARC, we made the decision to shelter [the passengers] in place versus having to try to move approximately 85 passengers out through the moving water, the uneven terrain, to let the water recede and move the train up to the station so we could off load them in a safe manner," Barnes said.
If rescue crews had opted to evacuate the train where it was stuck, the 85 passengers would have had to be moved out by boat, the chief said.
The passengers were stuck on the train for a couple more hours while law-enforcement officials waited out the storm.
"There was a little bit of delay just because they wanted to inspect the track to make sure it was safe for the train to continue up the track to the station," Barnes said. "We allowed a little time for the rainfall to die down. The water started to recede. CSX was able to inspect the train tracks and determine they could move the train up to the station at walking speed."
The train made it to the Brunswick station around midnight and passengers were finally able to de-board.
There were no injuries reported as a result of the incident, according to law-enforcement officials.