A flash flood emergency has been declared in the US state of Maryland, with water gushing through the streets and people reportedly trapped in buildings.
Fire and rescue crews have responded to numerous incidents in Ellicott City, just outside of Baltimore, as torrential rain pours down on much of the state.
Dramatic footage shows brown floodwater rushing down the community’s Main Street, which was devastated by deadly flash floods just under two years ago.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency for the area and ordered the state’s Emergency Management Agency to help the victims.
Amid the latest flooding, officials have advised people trapped inside buildings on Main Street to climb to the second floor, NBC Washington reports.
Locals who are in a safe place have been told not to call 911, with emergency crews overwhelmed with calls amid the shocking floods.
Howard County Fire & EMS tweeted: "If you are trapped in a building on #Main Street – climb to the second floor of the building and Shelter in Place.
"Rescuers will come for you."
It added: "Please DO NOT call 911 as long as you are in a safe space."
At around 5.20pm local time, the department said the water was starting to recede.
A flash flood emergency had been earlier issued in Howard County at 4.40pm.
Governor Hogan asked people to "avoid travel if possible".
Taking to Twitter, Gov Hogan wrote: "I have spoken to Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman & am currently heading to Ellicott City. I have directed @MDMEMA to assist in any capacity possible, and numerous other state agencies are providing support. I have declared a State of Emergency."
Earlier, he wrote: "Strong storms bringing heavy rain & potential for flash floods are currently moving across central Maryland. Please use extreme caution, follow all weather advisories & avoid travel if possible. If your area is under a flash flood warning, take precautions and seek higher ground."
He also retweeted a post from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MDMEMA), saying: "If you are in the downtown Ellicott City area or know of family/friends who live there: Please AVOID the downtown area. If you are in a vehicle – DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH FLOOD WATER. Turn Around, Don’t Drown."
Howard County Fire & EMS said the latest flooding was "rivaling" the 2016 incident in which two people died.
It earlier said "multiple" rescues were in progress and asked people to avoid the downtown Ellicott City area "to enable rescuers to gain access".
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