RI Residents Urged to Stay Vigilant for Irene; Tornado watch issued for coastal waters

Posted by jcashman

Courtesy of Associated Press

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (AP) — Tremendous waves from Irene lashed coastal communities of southern Rhode Island Sunday as residents hunkered down to ride out the punishing winds, rains and expected flooding.

Tropical Storm Irene knocked out power to nearly 135,000 utility customers by about 10:15 a.m., National Grid said.

The National Weather Service canceled a tornado watch for Rhode Island coastal waters and Irene was downgraded from a hurricane.

The state Department of Transportation suspended all transit service through Sunday and no flights were expected to leave from T.F. Green Airport. About 300 National Guard troops were on standby to help in the hardest-hit areas.

Lt. Col. Denis Riel, a spokesman for the Emergency Management Agency, said the storm will be a “sustained, persistent weather event.” And Maj. Gen. Kevin McBride, the state’s adjutant general and commanding general of the National Guard, said heavy rains and sustained high winds are expected throughout the day.

Riel urged residents to stay off the roads and emphasized the dangers of gathering near the coast to watch huge surf. Officials have blocked off the main coastal road in Narragansett, parts of which were under mandatory evacuation orders, and six National Guard Humvees were parked in the area.

A few dozen people rode out the storm at a shelter in Narragansett, playing solitaire, eating doughnuts and listening to battery powered radios at the high school.

Dave Tomson stayed at the shelter Saturday night after leaving his home in the ocean-front Jerusalem community. He drove back home Sunday morning to check on his home.

When he got there, there was half-a-foot of water on the road. Thirty minutes later, it had risen to over a foot and his SUV struggled to get through. He hurried back to the shelter.

“The water was moving in like a freight train. It’s a horrible feeling knowing your house is in the middle of this,” he said. “Common sense tells you to get the hell out of there.”

Several other communities, including Bristol, Charlestown, South Kingstown and Westerly, also issued mandatory evacuation orders for some residents. Other communities issued voluntary evacuation notices.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee said at a briefing in Cranston that National Grid crews are working to restore electricity, but they cannot operate if sustained winds are greater than 40 mph.

He also urged residents to stay home and off the roads and away from the surf. Shelters are open in many communities, he said, and residents should use them.

“Use common sense,” he said.

Still, a few ventured out to watch as waves splashed over the wall lining Ocean Road in Narragansett.

“This is when you see the power of the ocean,” said resident Ted DeFeo. “You gotta respect that.”

Gary Polk lives on Ocean Road and came out to see if he should evacuate. “I’m outside to see if the waves come up to the foundation,” he said. “If it does I’m leaving.”

Larry Davis of the Army Corps of Engineers, who runs the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier in Providence, said all three of the barrier’s gates were closed as of early Sunday morning. The morning high tide registered a little higher than 8 feet, with about a three-foot surge, he said. The barrier is designed to protect against a water level of more than 25 feet.


Niedowski reported from Providence, R.I.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Related posts:

  1. Tornado Watch Issued Rhode Island
  2. State-by-State Look at Dangers in New England, Prep for Irene
  3. Mass. Readies for Irene; Hurricane Watch in Effect
  4. Obama Declares Emergency for Conn. Ahead of Irene
  5. Power Outages Rise as Irene Approaches Bay State

Short URL: http://www.newenglandpost.com/?p=2246

Posted by jcashman on Aug 28 2011. Filed under Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Our Authors

Follow New England Post

Log in | Maintained by BlackDoor Creative