Lessons learned, things to improve 11 years after historic 2010 floods

Weather

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The floods of 2010 were an event most will never forget, and it’s now been 11 years since the historic event in Southern New England.

Rhode Island received nearly 16 inches of rain in March of 2010, which caused rivers to swell past their banks and led to flooding across the state.

In Massachusetts, more than a hundred people living around the rain-swollen South Watuppa Pond between Westport and Fall River voluntarily evacuated.

12 News spoke with Topher Hamblett from Save the Bay about the lessons Rhode Island learned following the floods and bills making their way through the legislature that aim to both adapt to and prevent climate change.

“I would say to some extent, we have learned our lesson, and we still have a ways to go in terms of taking the lesson from the 2010 floods and making some changes in policy here,” Hamblett said.

During the storm, waste water treatment facilities were among the buildings that found themselves underwater, sending sewage into people’s homes. Hamblett said the Department of Environment Management developed a plan to help those facilities adapt. There was also a growth in green infrastructure, which Hamblett said replaces pavement with soil and plants.

“One of the reasons that the Pawtuxet River and the Wood River and others overflowed so quickly and so severely is that these areas are paved,” he explained. “When water hits pavement, it has nowhere to go except off the pavement and all that pavement caused these rivers to flood to historically high levels.”

House and Senate lawmakers are once again considering legislation called the Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience Fund (OSCAR) that would set aside nearly $2 million a year to cities and towns that need to take measures to adapt to increased flooding. It’s the fifth year the bill has been introduced, Hamblett said.

“There appears to be a lot of momentum on climate policy this year, so we think OSCAR has a good chance to move finally,” Hamblett said.

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