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Wow! What a Year: Top 10 Local Stories of 2011

An earthquake, a hurricane, a flood and a prayer. The stories of a remarkable year in the Baltimore and D.C. suburbs.

Do you remember that period over the summer when it seems like we went through a hurricane, a flood and an earthquake all within a few weeks?

That really happened. That was August and September, and that set of stories makes our list of top Patch articles in 2011.

The stories featured below occurred in communities in the Baltimore and Washington suburbs -- places that and that it almost caused an international incident, or at least the local equivalent.

Here are the top stories chosen by your Patch editors:

1)   . Though the Aug. 23 5.8 magnitude earthquake triggered mockery among West Coasters who have seen much worse, it was still a shock for those who went through it here. “Those were the of my life!” said spokeswoman Laura Morena-Hill.

2)    Maryland was smacked with Hurricane Irene four days after the earthquake, on Aug. 27. Emergency officials in the Baltimore suburbs focused recovery efforts on that had lost it and that had come down during the storm. All told, it wasn’t exactly fun, but the storm wasn’t as bad as was originally predicted. "I really think we dodged a bullet," said No major injuries were reported.

3)   had to be evacuated Sept. 7 due to epic flooding. The storm, 11 days after Hurricane Irene, closed roads in , and throughout the region. And if Ellicott City wasn’t dumped on enough, 10 days later, on , leaving it smelling “fairly funky,” according to Patch Editor Brandie Jefferson.

4)   . .  Owings Mills is expected to get a Wegmans by 2014, which Baltimore County Executive Kevin said would “energize community activity throughout the Owings Mills Town Center.” And commercial activity will be a huge theme in Owings Mills in future years. Recently, Kamenetz announced that the and replaced with an outdoor shopping center.  In Columbia, .

5)   . Mike Major, Jr., 22, told Patch editor Bruce Goldfarb in June that he has no regrets–or fear of reprisals–for his role in disrupting the international hacking group Lulz Security, or LulzSec, which claims responsibility for attacks on several high-profile government and corporate web sites.

6)   . Some of the hundreds of chairs set out for were before the event. In the early morning hours, Frederick Road was littered with pieces of chairs, which prompted workers from the State Highway Administration to remove the broken pieces. But after residents called and complained that their chairs were removed, SHA workers returned the chairs, including the fragments. 

7)   They  in Baltimore this summer, with t-shirts and signs getting the point across to CSX, Maryland Department of Transportation and the public that Elkridgeans did not want a train-truck cargo transfer station, called an "intermodal facility," in their neighborhood. They have demonstrated , on and on .

8)   “I think [after bin Laden’s death] all of the deep-seated hatred came out of me,” said Sylvia Hess, the daughter of North Laurel’s  “I’m happy. I’m relieved … I can finally get rid of this anger. Justice has been served.” 

9)   Challengers Mike Sarich and Valerie Cunningham both sought a mayoral seat, but were edged out during the November election by the incumbent, . During the campaign, Moe confronted questions about vacant storefronts on Main Street and lack of diversity on the city council.

10)   The commission organized an with climate change skeptics to discuss PlanMaryland, a state plan aimed at slowing development and protecting farmland. And the commission also sparked reaction for , prompting a in front of the county building.  

What is your top news story of 2011? Let us know in comments below.

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