Two people have been killed and numerous homes and businesses damaged after flash flooding raged through a town in the eastern United States.

Ellicott City in the state of Maryland was hit by 165 millimetres of rain, most of which fell in just 2 hours between 7 and 9pm on Saturday night.

This downpour - almost one and a half times the amount of rain that is expected to fall in the entire month of July - triggered violent flash floods.

The rain funnelled through the streets, picking up cars and slamming them into walls and buildings.

In June, experiments at the Australian University of New South Wales demonstrated that small cars like a Toyota Yaris can be moved by as little as 15 centimetres of water if it is flowing over one metre per second. 

Principle Engineer Grantley Smith told ABC News that new cars were of particular risk, as they are made airtight, meaning they will float more easily.

In Ellicott City, the cars caused devastating damage to homes and businesses as they were tossed through the streets.

The man seen in the video above is believed to have escaped unharmed.

Additional reporting by Steff Gaulter.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies