As rain continues, Rhode Island studies flood damage


The city has also avoided major incidents and will continue to monitor the situation throughout Tuesday, said Anthony Moretti, chief of staff for Mayor Ken Hopkins. Moretti said the flooding has mostly subsided and things are now under control – “so far so good,” Moretti said on Tuesday morning.

“The city is ready should further flooding occur,” Moretti said. “We are quite proud of how our emergency services responded to the circumstances.”

Providence police told The Globe they received 76 calls for service during the storm, for safety hazards, accidents and storm hazards. On Monday, some motorists were stranded for hours as I-95 was closed in both directions due to extreme flooding. At a press conference Monday evening, Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti told reporters that drainage systems had not been blocked during the flash flood, which dumped more than 4 inches of rain over Providence and surrounding areas in a short time. “It’s just that the rain fell at an intensity that exceeded his ability to accept it,” he said.

The weather system continued to linger over the region, with concerns over untimely flooding lingering.

Staff from the state Department of Environmental Management’s Office of Water Resources monitor Rhode Island’s wastewater treatment facilities, DEM spokesman Michael Healey said.

Facility personnel estimate several thousand gallons were spilled, but DEM said it would be difficult to pinpoint an exact volume due to flooding.

The City of Cranston found evidence of a sanitary sewer overflow on Lake Street, where the area was inundated with rainwater, and operators saw movement around sanitary sewer manholes, Healey said. . The area appeared clear at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Sanitary sewers collect and transport domestic, commercial, and industrial wastewater, as well as limited amounts of stormwater and infiltrated groundwater, to treatment facilities. DEM has also received reports of backups of basements in Providence.

There were combined sewer overflow spills at the Bucklin Point and Fields Point facilities operated by the Narragansett Bay Commission, which serves the Providence and Blackstone Valley metro areas. Healey said discharges from combined sewer systems during rain events are not considered violations as long as all permit requirements for the facility are met.

With the heavy rains and several sewage spills combined, DEM announced emergency closures of shellfish areas on Tuesday.

“The emergency closures include the waters of Narragansett Bay north of a line from approximately Quonset Point in North Kingstown to the northern tip of Conanicut Island (Jamestown) to the southern tip of Prudence Island at Carr Point in Portsmouth,” the ad reads.

Runoff can carry bacterial contaminants into Narragansett Bay, but bacteria levels generally return to normal, safe background levels within 7-10 days of excessive rainfall.

In Providence, Mayor Jorge Elorza defended the city’s response to the storm after mayoral candidate Brett Smiley, in next week’s Democratic primary ballot, highlighted damage to Atwells Avenue.

“Today, after intense rains across the city, we saw our municipal infrastructure fail us,” Smiley tweeted. “Decades of underfunding, faulty repairs by the city and contractors, and years of inconsistent maintenance have resulted in deteriorating infrastructure in our neighborhoods.”

Elorza said the patch that broke was installed by Providence Water, not a third-party vendor in the city. It was in a 90-day stabilization period and a permanent fix could not have been installed, Elorza said.

“I ask all candidates who commented on yesterday’s road damage on Atwells Avenue to present facts,” Elorza said Tuesday.

“Yesterday’s burst patch and resulting road damage was clearly not the result of negligent vendors, poor planning or faulty execution,” Elorza said. “Given the massive amount of flash rain, it’s unbelievable and we were very lucky that other similar incidents didn’t happen.”

About 30 Brown University students were displaced after their dormitories were flooded, according to ABC6. A university spokesperson told the local television station that the first floor of a residence hall in Keeney Quad was hit.

A building at 215 Peace Street collapsed during Monday’s storm, although the building was unoccupied and there were no injuries, police said.

Spokeswoman Theresa Agonia said rain in Providence is expected to ease Tuesday afternoon and evening, and periods of additional heavy rain could cause more street flooding.

The city reminded residents to report requests to PVD311 using the app or by calling 3-1-1.

“Mayor Elorza and the Emergency Advisory Board (EAB) of Providence continue to meet to coordinate the city’s response to the massive amount of rain we have seen,” Agonia said.

The Providence branch of the Division of Motor Vehicles on Melrose Street was also closed due to severe flooding, announced the state agency that manages it. That would last at least until Wednesday, the DMV said. All other offices and services remained open.

In addition to I-95, other major roads were closed Monday during the flash flood.

Statewide, the Department of Transportation reported Tuesday morning that there were no additional flooding incidents.

“RIDOT maintenance crews continued to monitor overnight and will do so throughout the day,” department spokeswoman Lisbeth Pettengill said in an email on Tuesday.

Smithfield also experienced heavy rain, causing the closure of two roads in neighborhoods in the Greenville section. About a dozen residents had their basements flooded, said Todd Manni, director of emergency management and community outreach.

No injuries were reported, but at least two vehicles attempted to drive through the floodwaters, either before emergency crews arrived or bypassing barricades, Manni said.

The city was monitoring the Woonasquatucket River on Tuesday, which was in a minor flood stage at just under 6 feet just before 8 a.m., Manni said. The historic high came during the March 2010 flood, when it reached more than 9 feet, Manni said. This is the 13th time the river has reached a minor flood stage, Manni said, citing city records and National Weather Service records that date back to 1942.

“Our message today is first, never drive on flooded roads and second, if you live or work in an area prone to flooding, stay alert and aware of hazardous conditions due to rising water as rainfall is expected continue for most of the day,” Manni said on Tuesday. “In the unlikely event that an evacuation order is issued, do so without delay.”

NWS meteorologist Bill Simpson said Monday’s heaviest rainfall was localized and will have only a minor impact on the ongoing drought, which began in mid-May.

A drought, which is an extended period of dry weather that persists long enough to cause crop damage and water shortages, has led to U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster declarations in four of Rhode Island’s five counties. , according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.

This year Rhode Island experienced the second driest July and the 35th driest year to date in 128 years.

Simpson said the rain will help, but it will take more than one rainy event to break the drought. “If you have 5 inches in a month, that allows it to seep into the ground. Rainfall figures could be misleading.

The latest NIDIS report indicated that 12.98% of the Northeastern United States was in severe drought and 4.45% was experiencing extreme drought conditions as of August 23.

The World Health Organization says droughts can have serious impacts on health, agriculture, the economy, energy and the environment.

“Most of that was southern Rhode Island, southern Connecticut and southern Massachusetts,” Simpson said. “Unfortunately, the overall impact will be minimal.”

It’s a developing story.

Amanda Milkovits and Carlos Munoz of Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from an earlier Globe cover was used in this report.


Brian Amaral can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.

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