Monday, April 5, 2010

The Great Flood of 2010

In New England, April can be an unpredictable month, weather-wise. This month, when many motorcycles come out of hibernation, has been known to bring snow storms, 80-plus-degree temperatures, or anything in between.

Last week, though, brought record rainfalls and a flood that ranked as one of the state's biggest natural disasters. A total of 10 inches of rain or more fell on some parts of the state last Tuesday and Wednesday, causing rivers to overflow their banks, roads to wash out and collapse and basements to flood. The flooding, which followed another heavy rainfall about a week earlier, was especially devastating around the Pawtuxet River in Warwick, Cranston and West Warwick. The river flowed into the Warwick Mall parking lot, with water submerging cars. The Warwick sewer plant also flooded and shut down, prompting city officials to ask residents not to flush their toilets any more than necessary. Interstate 95 in Warwick had flood water up to the tops of Jersey barriers in one section near the Pawtuxet River and had to be completely shut down. The airport connector (pictured above) also had to be closed.

Although, to my knowledge, no deaths occurred as a direct result of flood waters, the economic effects to homeowners and businesses are staggering. And as many as 4,000 people are at least temporarily unemployed as a result of the flood, in a state already suffering from high unemployment.

The rain let up on Thursday, when I-95 reopened, and things began to dry out as people pumped out. Road conditions were not hospitable to motorcycles the first few days after the flood, as water washed sand, silt and gravel onto some roads, or eroded sections of roads away. A few roads remained closed due to collapses. But slowly, motorcycles began making their way out again, and Easter Sunday brought ideal riding weather, sunny and mid-70s.

Areas that were severely flooded will have a long road to return to any semblance of normal, but for the most part, at least in my area of the state, the main after-affect of the flood as it pertains to motorcycle riding is trying to avoid the puddles of water on the side of the road from people still pumping out their basements.

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