PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Branch Avenue Shopping Plaza was left in shambles Monday night after the nearby West River overflowed, sending a deluge across the parking lot and straight into the storefronts.

Firefighters donning wet suits rushed to rescue more than two dozen people from the floodwaters via inflatable rafts. Deputy Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Jutras said people were not only trapped in their cars in the parking lot, but also inside the waterlogged businesses.

Jutras said at its peak, the water was 4 feet high. The shopping plaza is home to a number of stores, including CitiTrends, Dollar General, Urban Wine and Spirits and Snipes.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” CitiTrends district manager Trish Lyons said of the flooding. “There’s significant damage inside the store.

The flooding shattered the glass storefronts and sent merchandise floating into the parking lot. It also knocked down the wall separating CitiTrends from the Dollar General.

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Lyons tells 12 News the store has been deemed a total loss, and that most of the salvageable merchandise will be moved to their Cranston location.

CitiTrends manager Yackeline Catu expressed her frustrations with those who took advantage of the chaotic situation.

12 News watched as bystanders trudged through the floodwaters and into the open stores.

“I was on the other side of the parking lot watching just watching people take whole tote bags of clothing and shoes,” Catu recalled. “There were a lot of people coming in and out … and parents sending their children in to loot the stores.”

There are now two officers guarding the entrances of the storefronts which have not yet been boarded up and secured.

Providence Mayor Brett Smiley assured that those responsible for the looting will be held responsible.

“There’s no world in which we give a pass to anyone who may have acted illegally,” Smiley said.

Watch: Providence flooding news conference (Story continues below.)

Investigators are in the process of reviewing surveillance footage from inside the stores, as well as from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation camera on the Route 146 overpass that faces the shopping plaza.

“There’s a lot of security footage to go through,” he said. “It takes a few days to sort through exactly what happened.”

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