PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The heavy rain that caused street flooding and forced the closure of major roads in Rhode Island on Labor Day continued on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Nearly 11 inches of rain had fallen in the city of Cranston by early Tuesday, according to a weather service report, while some other areas of the state got around 8 inches of rain.
A flood warning that remained in effect in northern parts of the state was extended north into Massachusetts and west into northeast Connecticut. Rainfall totals were lower in neighboring states, although Sterling, Connecticut, along the state border, received more than 7 inches and Attleboro, Massachusetts, got almost 5 1/2 inches.
The rain blocked Interstate 95 and other roads in and around Providence and stranded several drivers on Monday, but the roadway was reopened later in the evening, the state Transportation Department said in a tweet.
Agency Director Peter Alviti said at a Monday news conference that the rain was overwhelming the drainage systems.
“It was simply that the rain came down at an intensity that exceeded its capacity to accept it,” he said.
Even though commuters were expected to take to the roads after the long holiday weekend, Gov. Dan McKee advised people to “avoid unnecessary travel” and not to drive through floodwaters.
In Providence, an unoccupied building collapsed, and at Brown University about 30 students were temporarily displaced from their dorm when rainwaters flooded a lower floor. After several cars were nearly submerged on Charles Street in Providence on Monday, occupants had to be rescued by first responders with a life raft.
The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles closed its Providence branch office on Tuesday due to flooding. The office was expected to remain closed on Wednesday too.
Providence mayoral candidate Brett Smiley, a Democrat, said the city’s infrastructure failed because of decades of underfunding, faulty repairs and inconsistent maintenance. Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune, who is also running for mayor, criticized Smiley for not tackling these issues when he worked for the city, and then for the governor.
In July, Providence had less than half an inch of rainfall in the third driest July on record. Half of the state was experiencing extreme drought and the rest was experiencing severe drought as of last week