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She said the staff announced they were closing around 3:45 because of a flood warning.

Hogan also toured the area and promised "every bit of assistance we possibly can".

Residents said Sunday's flood seemed even worse than the storm in July 2016 - which was called an extremely rare "one-in-1,000 year event", and cost the city tens of millions of dollars in damages. On Sunday, the community received almost 8 inches (20.32 centimeters) of rain over a six-hour period, but most of it fell during an intense, three-hour period, Muccilli said. At 5:30 p.m., the agency declared a flash food emergency. But authorities were just beginning to assess the damage in Ellicott City.

The storms that unleashed the rains on the city were part of a broad conveyor of moisture that has been feeding rain from Jamaica up into the east coast of the US.

Residents and local press in Maryland posted frightening footage of destructive flash flooding on Sunday, following heavy rain across the state.

Hogan said the order will allow the state to efficiently coordinate support and provide additional help to localities experiencing flooding.

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The Roger Carter Community Center, St. Peter's and St. Paul churches were open as shelters for people in need.

That flooding ripped up sidewalks, gutted numerous town's quaint shops and carried off vehicles, depositing some of them blocks away.

Mr Hogan warned people to take "extreme caution" and "avoid travelling if possible".

Before declaring a state of emergency, Hogan activated the state's emergency response, which sends extra rescue personnel to the scene from various state agencies, said his spokesperson Amelia Chasse. Others said they gathered in the second story of a building to anxiously watch the seething waters.

Officials said there were reports of collapsed buildings.

"The place looked terrific" after renovations from the last flood, he told CNN.

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The Maryland governor is now surveying damage in Ellicott City. "It's significantly higher than it was before", she told the Baltimore Sun. There was no immediate report of any injuries.

Information still is preliminary, however, and authorities say they are still checking flooded buildings and streets.

It is believed multiple water rescues are underway.

In Towson, less than 15 miles north of Baltimore, two cars were inundated on a flooded road and Route 1 near White Marsh had to be shut down, according to The Towson Flyer. Flash flooding and water rescues are being reported in Maryland as heavy rain soaks much of the state. The state will continue to provide all available resources to assist Howard County with their response to this extremely unsafe and ongoing situation.

Officials are urging anyone in the area to seek higher ground and not to drive through flooded roads.

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