The Heat Is Online

'Nightmare' rains Inundate New England

RI gov. warns of 100-year flood as storm continues

The Associated Press, March. 30, 2010

CRANSTON, R.I. - The second major rainstorm 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 asked residents Tuesday afternoon to get home by dinnertime to avoid traveling in 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 after two days of unrelenting rain. Troops in Connecticut 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. No injuries had been reported in those states because of the storm as of midday Tuesday.
In one 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 that he worried the water would rise to the first floors.
"Right now it's bad and getting worse," said 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 Dupont, who was afraid the home might now be unsellable.
Standing water pooled on or rushed across roads in the region, making driving treacherous and forcing closures. Steve Kass, spokesman for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, said officials feared 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.
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.
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 used to ferry tourists around downtown Boston were deployed to take stranded residents to and from their homes. The boats could be used again if conditions deteriorate, 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 mudslide 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.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

‘Nightmare’ rains drench East Coast

 Second major storm expected to topple records for wettest March ever

 The Associated Press, March. 30, 2010

BOSTON - A second major storm in less than a month continued to drench the East Coast as meteorologists predicted "very dangerous" flooding Tuesday in the Northeast and the wettest March on record in some places.

The National Weather Service called on commuters to be prepared to travel alternate routes in case of washed-out roads and posted flood warnings and advisories from Maine to the Carolinas, with as much as 5 to 7 inches of rain expected over the coming days.

The storm hits as the Northeast works to recover from a storm March 13-15 that dropped as much as much as 10 inches of rain, causing several rivers to rise and flooding basements throughout the region.

Wamed Mansour of Paterson, N.J., was scrambling Monday to move new computers, phone consoles and fax machines in his office to higher ground — about $10,000 worth of equipment he bought last week to replace what was destroyed earlier this month when his auto parts business flooded with 7 feet of water from the Passaic River.

"It's been a really tiring few weeks, and now it might be all over again," Mansour said.

'A nightmare'
In Rhode Island, meteorologists warned of a possible "life-threatening" situation along the Pawtuxet River, predicting heavy flooding by Tuesday afternoon that could be as severe as or worse than the mid-March storm.

"This is turning out to be a nightmare," said Steve Kass, spokesman for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.

In Cranston, R.I., about 100 people were evacuated from their homes late Monday night because a bridge over the Pawtuxet was closed due to damage from the earlier storm, and authorities were concerned that residents would be without an escape route.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency Monday and mobilized as many as 1,000 National Guardsmen to assist in the event of major flooding.

The rainiest March on record in Boston was 1953, when 11 inches fell during the month; nearly 10 inches had already fallen before the start of the latest storm.

New York City was within 3 inches of the March record of 10.54 inches set in 1983, and forecasters said the storm could easily eclipse that mark.

"Our ground is so wet it's like pouring water into an already saturated sponge," said Tony Sutton, commissioner of Emergency Services for Westchester County, N.Y., north of the city. "Thank God we're not expecting real strong winds. That's a break."

Battling erosion and closing roads
Coastal flooding from rain and high tides was a concern on Long Island beaches. Workers were busy Monday trucking tons of sand to the eastern end of the popular Robert Moses State Park to battle erosion, state parks spokesman George Gorman said.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell opened the state's emergency operations center Monday as flood warnings were posted along many rivers and streams throughout the state.

Road closures were reported Monday in several states, including New Jersey.

Violent weather from the same system, including at least one tornado, was blamed for injuries to several people and damage to more than 30 homes Sunday night in the Carolinas. Two teenagers in North Carolina died after their car slid off a rain-slick road into a swollen creek.
The rain was tapering off in the Carolinas early Tuesday, but some flood warnings remained.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.