Three-and-a-half inches fell in a two-hour period in Cranston, according to the National Weather Service, causing street flooding and ponding in all the usual places across the city. But no place was hit harder than the Dean Estates complex, which is in a state of ruin.
The rain came fast and hard, overwhelming the drainage system. Residents were stranded as the floodwater rose to waist-high depths. None of the more-than 60 residents were hurt; half of the people living there had to be rescued by boat and firefighters rescued several cats along the way.
Portions of Oaklawn Avenue were closed for hours as crews worked to pump water out of the inundated buildings as personal possessions floated in stormwater and sewage. By nightfall, the scope of the devastation was becoming more grim as a floor collapsed and sinkholes appeared in the back yard, causing one firefighter to fall and suffer an injury.
Property owner Stuart Levy told WPRI that the disaster is a "terrible act of God" and city officials are now determining if the buildings are a total loss. The mayor said the drainage system in the area needs to be addressed.
The American Red Cross said it is helping 50 people displaced by the flooding. A total of 35 adults and 15 children in 16 families were affected and they are being helped with food, clothing and shelter. Six families totaling 20 people are getting housing assitance.
Levy was able to temporarily house some of the residents.
Red Cross spokesman Paul Shipman said the Red Cross is still available to two families not at the scene yesterday and noted the partnership between the city, first responders and the landlord to help displaced residents.
We provide canteen service to help people stay hydrated and to keep their energy up during long responses at disaster scenes," Shipman said. "We appreciate the partnership that helped make sure residents' immediate needs were met."