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A look back at the flood of the century

April 4, 2011

Narragansett Times File Photo

The playground at the Neighborhood Guild on March 31, 2010.

WAKEFIELD–When four feet of water rushed into the back of Damon’s Hardware on Main Street last March, co-owner Toni Chappell said she was horrified.

Since 1945, the plumbing and hardware store has been situated next to the Saugatucket River, where sump pumps have been able to control the overflow of water due to rain floods. However, on March 31 last year, Rhode Island experienced the worst flooding it has seen in a century, causing the Saugatucket River to overflow its bank.

As relentless rain poured onto streets, causing Glen Rock Reservoir to breach its dam which made Glen Rock Road and Old Usquepaug Road impassable in South Kingstown and trapping cars stuck on the eroded Indian Trail in Narragansett, the fire departments had their hands full.

Fire Chief Robert Perry of the Union Fire District in South Kingstown said his department made 250 runs during the three to five day period when the flood began. Perry said the fire department mainly pumped out basements, rescue people trapped in submerged cars and move boats stuck in Warden’s Pond.

“We worked with the town manager and the police department to figure out where we needed to go and help them get through blocked roads,” Perry said.

When the floods hit South Kingstown, Perry said the 100 fire department volunteers began working at 10:30 at night and continued to Friday and Saturday, accumulating well over 1,000 hours.

South Kingstown public services director Jon Schock said Wakefield and Peace Dale suffered the most in the town. For two days, Peace Dale was flooded from Kersey Road to Kingstown Road. In total, 18 different roads were submerged and impassable in the town.

“With a storm of that size, we certainly had the backing of the town’s emergency management abilities, including stand-by generators and pumps,” Schock said. “The primary goal is to keep people out of the flooded areas, barricade off flooded roadways and provide sandbags to property owners. The Fire Department was also providing pumping services for basements.”

Damon’s Hardware was one store basement that South Kingstown firefighters had to pump out. When Toni Chappell went to assess her store after the initial flooding began, she was greeted with four feet of water in the basement and back of Damon’s Hardware.

For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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