Residents Asked To Help With Possible Flooding Threat
It’s unclear how much rain we will get when Sandy arrives early next week, but town officials say leaf-clogged storm drains will cause flooding and they are asking residents to help out.
According to Public Works Director Joe Duarte, flooding is all about how much rain falls in an hour, or several hours. Two recent storms dumped so much rain quickly the volume of water overwhelmed storm drains, causing flooding in some low-lying areas.
"The storm drains just can't keep up and you get a flash flood. If you have on inch of water in one hour, you've got a problem," Duarte said, referring to storms in August and September.
With the threat of Hurricane Sandy looming early next week, Duarte said, "On Friday, my guys are going to stop everything and go around town and clear off the grates."
It’s particularly urgent this time of year because of all the leaves on the ground, he said.
And East Greenwich has a lot of catch basins – 1,500 of them. Duarte said residents can help by monitoring any storm drains near their property. If a drain gets covered up with leaves and other debris, remove it.
Some homeowners rake or blow leaves into the street in advance of hired leaf pickup companies. Duarte urged those residents to make sure the leaves are out of the street by the time the storm hits.
According to Duarte and Town Manager Bill Sequino, the heavy rains in August and September were very unusual. On Aug. 20, East Greenwich saw two inches of rain in an hour. Areas that hadn’t seen flooding in decades got in trouble.
Case in point was a house on Bridge Street just off Main Street. Water overwhelmed the storm drain and came into the basement apartment during the August rainstorm. The woman who lives in the ground floor apartment said she’d never seen anything like it in her 16 years there.
By contrast, the March 2010 flood was about 8 inches over a 24-hour period. As many of us in East Greenwich learned, that type of storm causes flooding too.
"We're just beginning to see storms we have never seen," said Duarte. "Storms we'd see every 25 years, now are happening every 2 to 3 years."