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Flooding Threatens East Coast Again

Source: WSJ


Posted on 31 Mar 2010

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The second major rain storm of the month pounded the Northeast on Tuesday, pushing rivers over their banks, closing roads and schools, prompting evacuations and shattering at least one rainfall record.

Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri on Tuesday afternoon asked residents to get home by dinnertime to avoid what officials expect to be the worst flooding to hit the state in more than 100 years.

"The worst is still ahead of us," he said during a broadcast carried live on the state's major TV stations. "We're in a serious, serious situation."

National Guard troops were activated in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where neighborhoods still recovering from earlier flooding were again swamped. Troops in Connecticut also were put on alert.

A storm two weeks ago dropped as much as much as 10 inches of rain on the same region. The National Weather Service said nearly 13 inches of rain had fallen during March in Boston, breaking the previous record of 11 inches for the month set in 1953. New York City could also break its March record.

Providence had about 7.2 inches of rain from the current storm as of 10 a.m., pushing the monthly rainfall total to 14.7 inches and within an inch of the city's all-time monthly record, set in October 2005, the weather service said.

Scattered home evacuations were reported in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

In a water-weary neighborhood along the Pawtuxet River in Cranston, basements were flooded and water at the end of one street was waist deep. One resident hung a sign: "FEMA + State + City of Cranston. Buy our houses.''

Brian Dupont, a real-estate broker who owns two homes on the street, said Tuesday morning he was concerned that the water will rise to the first floors.

"Right now it's bad and getting worse,'' said Mr. Dupont, who with his son put down 30 sandbags around the properties but was not sure how effective they would be.

"We've got a saying, 'Its like trying to shovel against the tide.' It's terrible, terrible.'' said Mr. Dupont, who was afraid the home might now be unsellable.

Standing water was pooling on roadways across the region, making driving treacherous and forcing road closures. Steve Kass, spokesman for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, said officials were concerned that Interstate 95, a major East Coast thoroughfare, could end up under water in some sections.

In Maine, a dam in Porter let loose Tuesday morning, sending a torrent of water down country roads. One road ended up covered with 2 feet of water but no evacuations or injuries were reported.

Water Row, a scenic road running along the Sudbury River in Wayland, Mass., lived up to its name Tuesday as water from the swollen river covered the street.

Bob Irving, the town's police chief and emergency management director, said Water Row and two other low-lying streets along the river had been closed, but no mandatory evacuations had been ordered yet.

During the three-day storm earlier in the month, amphibious Duck Boats like the ones that are used to ferry tourists around downtown Boston were deployed to ferry stranded residents to and from their homes. The boats could be used again if conditions deteriorate, Mr. Irving said.

In Connecticut, Norwich officials declared a state of emergency as the Yantic River continued to rise. Officials in Stonington ordered an evacuation of some areas as a precaution against rising flood waters.

Weather-related delays averaged three hours at Newark Liberty International Airport, and two hours at New York's La Guardia Airport, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In New York City, a mud slide caused some interruptions on a commuter rail line in the Bronx.

The rain also caused a run on basement sump pumps at hardware and home-improvement stores.

Jim Tatarczuk, manager of Amesbury Industrial Supply Co. Inc., told the Daily News of Newburyport, Mass., his store would normally stock about 130 pumps for the spring, but he has sold nearly double that already.

"There are people who are still pumping out from the old storm, and now we have more on its way,'' he said.

President Barack Obama issued disaster declarations for many areas of New England to free up federal aid to residents and households for damages caused by late winter and early spring storms. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.


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