Floods for second time in less than a month

Posted 1/11/24

A rainstorm early Wednesday morning brought significant flooding to Warwick for the second time in less than a month.

Nearly 4 inches of rain fell between Tuesday, January 9 and Wednesday, …

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Floods for second time in less than a month


A rainstorm early Wednesday morning brought significant flooding to Warwick for the second time in less than a month.

Nearly 4 inches of rain fell between Tuesday, January 9 and Wednesday, January 10 according to measurements taken by the National Weather Service, coupled with another 2.5 inches worth of snowmelt from the winter storm that hit New England the preceding weekend. Additionally, winds of up to 42mph brought a risk of power outages across the city.

According to Joel Thomas, Operations Manager for Warwick Police Dept., emergency services Wednesday were busy all across the city, with significant flooding reported at Bald Hill Road, West Shore Rd., Orchard Ave, Centreville Rd., Knight St., Lincoln Ave Bridge.

East Natick Bridge, which connects Warwick to West Warwick across the Pawtuxet was also closed, as waters were still rising by late Wednesday morning.

Warwick Fire Chief Peter K. McMichael said “The Pawtuxet river is over flood stage and is continuing to rise. Expected to crest at 15.2 feet, which will be sometime probably the area of (Wednesday night).”

Warwick Public Schools were closed for the day. Due to flooding at Toll Gate High School and Oakland Beach Elementary, Superintendent Lynn Dambruch said, “It just wouldn’t have been safe” to bring students to class. With an unknown number of families experiencing power outages as of Wednesday morning, it was decided giving students the day off was preferable to remote education.

As of Wednesday morning, only 150 Warwick customers had yet experienced power outages, according to Ted Kresse, a manager at Rhode Island Energy. However, that number would rise to 2,200 following an outage in Cowesett at approximately 12:30 p.m. That outage was mostly managed within the hour.

The flooding came at a particularly brutal time for Apponaug Brewing Company, which was planning on reopening Thursday, Jan. 11 after cleaning up from two feet of flooding back in December.

“We’re having a real Groundhog Day moment here,” the company wrote on its Facebook page. “Just when things were looking up, the river also decided to join the party.”

Since Dec. 19, the company has been cleaning up their space at the old Pontiac Mills. According to prior Beacon reporting, co-owner Tamara McKenney said the company’s kitchen was hit the hardest by the December flooding, though extensive cleanup was required throughout the rest of their facility.

The second round will likely force more cleanups, although the company said they were hopeful that the flooding would be kept to a minimum.

Shoppers were still parked at Shaw’s marketplace across from Ace Hardware after significant flooding in their parking lot. Ace Hardware had not been directly hit by flooding as of Wednesday morning due to the store’s position on a hill.

An Ace Hardware employee remembered when Shaw’s was Zayre’s Department Store. She said that flooding in the parking lot is nothing unusual and has been reoccurring for many years. She recalled times when the store remained open and water would be up to shoppers’ knees.

In West Warwick, 35 people were evacuated from their homes early Wednesday following the overflow of Lippitt Brook. They were relocated to an emergency shelter at West Warwick Civic Center

In an interview Wednesday morning on the WPRO’s Tara Granahan show, State Director of Transportation Peter Alviti was asked what can be done to prevent flooding such as this. He replied that in order to mitigate future flooding “we’d have to take all the houses and businesses and parking lots that were built in these watersheds and plant trees in their place. They restore the hydrology to when it was originally, pristine woodland. Every time we take a forest or a wetland and pave over it, it contributes to the flooding of these rivers and streams that then flow out the roadway.”

Alveti continued, “The hydrology of these rivers is such that the ground was so saturated that when we doubled this excessive rainfall, the rivers rose to unusually high levels and are flooding out to the roads, and bridges next to themselves. It’s going to take a while, the way the hydrology and these watersheds work, it could be several hours.”

According to Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, a flood warning remained in effect in several parts of Rhode Island, including the Warwick area, at least through Wednesday afternoon.

More rain may be on the way this weekend, as the National Weather Service projects thunderstorm on Friday, January 12. They project winds of 18-28 mph with gusts up to 43 mph.

flood, flooding, storm


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