Heavy rains cause massive flooding across R.I.

THE HEAVY RAIN that caused street flooding and forced the closure of major roads in Rhode Island on Labor Day was expected to continue. The National Weather Service says nearly 11 inches of rain fell in the city of Cranston by early Tuesday, while some other areas of the state got around 8 inches of rain. / COURTESY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

PROVIDENCE – The heavy rain that caused street flooding and forced the closure of major roads across the state on Labor Day continued on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Nearly 11 inches of rain had fallen in Cranston by early Tuesday, according to a weather service report, while Smithfield and Providence got around 8 inches of rain.

A flood warning remains in effect in both Kent and Providence counties until 4 p.m. Tuesday, while the rest of Rhode Island is under a flood watch until 5 p.m.

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 Department of Transportation said in a tweet.

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Agency Director Peter Alviti said on Monday 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.

I-95 was flooded in the area of Exit 18 (Thurbers Avenue) in Providence Monday afternoon, leaving drivers stranded for hours. However traffic was flowing again in both directions by about 6 p.m., WPRI-TV CBS 12 reported.

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 on Peace street collapsed Monday, causing the surrounding streets to be closed off, according WPRI.

About 35 students were temporarily displaced from their dorm at Brown University when rainwaters flooded a lower floor. Brown spokesperson Brian Clark said 17 rooms were affected and Brown’s Residential Life staff worked with students to arrange for overnight housing. The fall semester at Brown is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

“At this point, water has been removed, spaces and furniture are being dried and dehumidified, and staff are monitoring moisture levels in the area as they work to return the rooms to usable status,” Clark said in an email. “We expect to have a clear timeline for completion of that work by later today, and we’ll offer all affected students temporary housing for the duration of work, if that’s necessary before they can return to rooms.”

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.

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.

Heaving rain and flooding caused some closures and cancellations Tuesday.

Roger Williams Park Zoo was closed Tuesday to clean up damage from a storm, which cased some flooding and downed trees across the property. A zoo spokesman told WJAR-TV NBC 10 no animals were hurt nor were any in danger.

The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles Tuesday closed its branch office at 325 Melrose St. through Wednesday due to severe flooding. All other DMV offices and online services remain available.

(Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.)

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