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Conowingo Dam to open more floodgates; rising water, debris may impact those downstream

Posted at 5:06 PM, Jul 26, 2018

The company that runs the Conowingo Dam says more than 20 floodgates may open in the next couple of days.

It’s faster, higher, and choppier than it’s been in some time – the raging Susquehanna River.

The unusually high water was enough to take Bonnie Cole out of her usual birdwatching photoshoots to look at the water for herself.

“I’ve never seen that before, so I wanted to see it and I came here to hopefully see some eagles, but they’re not very active right now,” Cole said.

She, like dozens of others, was busy snapping photos as the floodgates to the dam opened, spewing gallons of water and debris downstream.

State Route 222 into Port Deposit was closed because of the conditions.

RELATED: Open floodgates may force Port Deposit residents to evacuate

“Amazing. I’ve never seen water this high – ever,” Cole said.

The water flowing down from Pennsylvania is on pace to flow at a rate between three to five Olympic-sized swimming pools ever five seconds.

Exelon, the company running the dam, says due to recent rain storms, more gates are expected to open to deal with the record flow.

“You always see rocks over there. But to see this water rushing like this, it’s just unbelievable – unbelievable,” Mary Helen Gall said.

She and her husband swim at the pool nearby. The spray from the rushing water brought them to Fisherman’s Park to look at the river – near their usual picnic spot.

“Never seen it this high. Never,” Gall said.

For those in Port Deposit, they’re holding tight – for now.

A few more open gates could mean evacuating the city.

Until then, it’s a watch and a wait as those who look at the high waters hope opening the floodgates cause little damage.

“I hate to see all of this debris go down, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Hopefully, the community gets involved in cleaning it up,” Cole said.