SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Still recovering from Tropical Storm Henri a couple of weeks ago, the last thing South Kingstown needed was the flooding that came this week with the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
The Union Fire District handled roughly 30 calls for service beginning at 3 a.m. Thursday, ranging from flooded basements, pole fires, residents trapped on flooded roadways and alarms sounding.
Ida was a category 4 hurricane when it made landfall in Louisiana. It then traveled up the Eastern seaboard dumping feet of rain along the way in places like New York City, where subways flooded.
The relentless rain caused serious flooding throughout Rhode Island, making streets impassable and causing widespread power outages.
Union Fire District volunteer members were on duty overnight Thursday and throughout the ensuing day to handle an excess of calls related to the flooding.
“Despite being a volunteer department, our members are highly trained to deal with a variety of responses including those relating to the severe weather that we saw earlier today,” Union Fire District Chief Steven Pinch said. “I commend our members who worked through the night to answer the needs of our residents, and wish everyone well as they deal with the aftermath of this very serious storm.”
The Saugatucket River crested its banks and caused localized flooding on several streets. Even the Village Green playground wasn’t spared damage from the floodwaters.
The town reported Friday that the playground would be closed until further notice, but that the swing sets would remain open for use.
The flooding closed Columbia Street and Spring Street between Kingstown Road and Church Street until the waters receded. The Peace Dale rotary and several roads in the Matunuck and Middlebridge areas flooded, police said. All but one road had reopened by Friday morning, police said.
Flooding wasn’t confined to South Kingstown. In North Kingstown, firefighters used rowboats to evacuate residents from the Kingstown Crossing Apartments, where more than a foot of water flooded several ground-level units. Apartment management was able to find the residents temporary living arrangements.
Shellfishing beds that are part of the lifeblood of the area also felt the effects of the four to eight inches of rain Ida dropped in the state.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said shellfish harvest in the coastal salt ponds, including Point Judith Pond, closed at noon Thursday and are scheduled to reopen at noon on Sept. 9.
The excessive rain caused extreme stormwater runoff and, in some areas, triggered wastewater treatment bypasses, combined sewer overflows and sewer system overflows that can deposit contaminants into shellfish harvest areas.
DEM data shows that such conditions result in unacceptable bacterial levels for shellfish harvesting.
DEM also advised paddlers and anglers to use caution and wear a life jacket if they are boating or kayaking on local rivers.
Over Labor Day weekend, DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement responded to several rescues of kayakers in Warwick and Westerly who needed help due to improper equipment and inexperience handling the strong currents and higher water levels caused by the recent storms.