PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CN) – Rhode Island courthouses closed for the day after President Obama, at Gov. Donald Carcieri’s urging, declared a state of emergency for the worst flooding the state has seen in more than 100 years. Three rivers – the Woonasquatucket, Blackstone and Pawtuxet – spilled over their banks during the two-day rainstorm, forcing Carcieri to call out the National Guard to help hundreds of people out of their homes and into makeshift shelters.
Power companies urged state residents to conserve electricity and warned that several areas will be without power for days as the National Grid utility fixes a flooded substation. Sewage treatment plants were swamped and residents were urged not to flush toilets, because of the possibility of raw sewage overflow into their homes.
Small streams and coastal flows contributed to the flooding that also affected large areas of Massachusetts and sections of Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Providence recorded more than 15 inches of rain in March, the rainiest month in state history. Sections of Interstate 95 flooded and were reduced to one lane in places.
“I started pumping water out of my basement at 9 a.m. and didn’t stop until 2 a.m.,” said Andrea Cicerchia, a North Providence resident who was affected by the flooding of the Woonasquatucket River. “A woman on my street who didn’t start early had 4 feet of water in her basement. At least the insurance is going to cover this, because the water didn’t come in from the outside, it came up from my toilet and my drains,”
Rain was expected to taper off later Wednesday, after the storm dropped 6 to 10 inches across the state.