April showers come early; rain floods homes in March’s final days
Volunteers from the fire department were still answering calls Tuesday afternoon following the flash floods that affected the entire island. Fire Chief Jim Bryer said he dispatched crews to more than 20 homes from Beavertail to the north end.
“We’ve been busy,” he said Tuesday morning, “and we’re still getting calls.”
According to Bryer, the flooding from the weekend’s coastal storm was the most damaging since March 2010, when more than 8 record-breaking inches of rain accumulated on the island.
“This is probably the worst since then,” he said.
Crews began working Sunday morning, helping residents pump out water in basements with partly submerged boilers. Most cellars had between 6 and 8 inches of water, he said. Some residents, however, with less than an inch called for assistance, but the fire department’s equipment is more useful for deeper water, Bryer says. He advised residents in flood areas to purchase their own sump pumps.
According to Town Engineer Mike Gray, 5.4 inches of rain was the official total measured at the wastewater treatment plant. Public works crews logged overtime Sunday to help deal with flooding near the reservoir. While no major damage was done to the town’s roads, Gray said the flooding may force some roads to be paved earlier than planned.
“Any time there’s a large rainfall, the storm runoff to the street is going to do damage,” he said. “The water chews the edges of the roads.”
Along with public works and firefighters, the staff at Jamestown Hardware was also busy earlier in the week. Storeowner Scott Sherman said he sold out of sump pumps on Sunday, and that there was a “big demand” for wet-dry vacuums.
The National Weather Service issued an alert on Saturday, and many cellular customers received the notice via text message. In other areas of the state, Kingston received a state-high rainfall of just under 6 inches. Moreover, the National Weather Service kept its flood warning as late as Tuesday evening for areas around Pawtuxet River at Cranston and Pawcatuck River at Westerly.
While the floods are considered to be the worst since 2010, Bryer and Gray both concede there is no comparison. More than 200 basements were pumped in the spring storm four years ago, and water ran as high as 6 feet in some homes.