CRANSTON, R.I. – A record-shattering rainstorm hammered the Northeast on Tuesday, delivering widespread flooding for the second time this month and unleashing particular havoc in Rhode Island, a tiny coastal state already beleaguered by a sagging economy and backbreaking unemployment rate.
The storm soaked all corners of what is known as the Ocean State, pushing rivers over their banks, closing roads and schools, and requiring hundreds of people to evacuate, including by boat. The rain finally tapered off by Tuesday afternoon but resumed in Providence by evening, with officials bracing for what is expected to be the most severe flooding to hit the state in more than 100 years.
As floodwaters began to sweep through first floors in some areas, rivers from Maine down to the New York area weren’t even expected to crest until today or Thursday.
“None of us alive have seen the flooding that we are experiencing now or going to experience,” Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri said Tuesday night. “This is unprecedented in our state’s history.”
The rain came as residents were still recovering from a storm two weeks ago that dumped as much as 10 inches on the region and led President Barack Obama to declare a major disaster in all but one Rhode Island county.
National Guard troops were activated in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Scattered home evacuations were reported in those states, as well, and residents in flood-prone areas of New Hampshire were put on alert that they may have to leave. No deaths were reported in those states as of Tuesday evening.
Interstate 95, a major East Coast thoroughfare, was flooded down to one lane in some areas of Rhode Island. In Maine, a dam in Porter let loose Tuesday morning, sending a torrent of water down country roads. No evacuations or injuries were reported.
North of New York City, a man in his 70s drove past a barricade onto a flooded section of the Bronx River Parkway and had to be rescued from the roof of his truck, Westchester County police said. On Long Island, rain coupled with tides inundated a 20-mile stretch of oceanfront road in Southampton.
In Connecticut, heavy rains caused the earth under a Middletown apartment complex parking lot to give way, leaving two buildings teetering over the ravine of a river. Residents have been evacuated to an emergency shelter at a local high school.