Warned of another flooding claim, officials seek broader action

Warned of another flooding claim, officials seek broader action

NORTH PROVIDENCE – In a town where chronic neighborhood flooding issues often persist due to overdevelopment and aging infrastructure, officials are seeking to remedy the problem in a more “holistic fashion,” as Councilor Ken Amoriggi puts it.

Robert Douglas, of 24 Grand Ave., is one of those residents who’s been most impacted by flooding issues over the past 20 years, warning the council last week that yet another claim is on the way due to structural damage to his home.

According to Douglas, he’s one of the lucky ones in town who has had all of his claims paid out. In 14 years, he’s had three claims, all paid out by insurance, the latest in May of this year. All of the homes on his side of the street have had some sort of damage claim paid out over that time, he said.

Amoriggi said he understands there’s a master list at the Department of Public Works detailing the many flooding and drainage issues needing to be addressed in town. He made a successful motion to send this matter to the council’s finance subcommittee and have the DPW send that committee all known claims within the past five years. Officials would come to finance prepared to discuss the cost of fixing drains and backup issues and offer timelines for when work is expected to be done, he said.

Drainage problems are impacting a lot of people in North Providence, particularly on the eastern end of town, according to Amoriggi.

The councilman said he visited 24 Grand Ave. and said Douglas clearly has a problem, noting in particular the condition of his stairs and the erosion around his foundation.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said this week that the town is in “pretty good shape” as it continues to address various drainage problems. After previously being mandated to get a truck and camera system for regular inspections, he said that’s happening on a regular basis and blocked lines are being cleared. Many of the issues that have arisen have been because of junk in the pipes, and clearing them has addressed the problem, he said.

The town is also investing in new piping, he said, including in the area of Benjamin Drive. Following last week’s meeting, Public Works Director Bernie Salvatore took the camera to the area around the home owned by Douglas and began investigating what the issue might be. This is a low area, he said, and Salvatore seems to think Douglas might need a backflow protector to help prevent these situations.

“We are addressing it,” he said, adding that he told Salvatore, “If you need to dig, just do it.”

Asked if the town has done a full analysis on its older drainage infrastructure, Lombardi said no, it has not.

According to Douglas, water coming off Woodward Road goes into Alexander Street, then to Grand Avenue in front of his house and back to Alexander. A good majority of the time when it rains, the “overflow C” for the storm drain on Grand can’t handle the water and nearby properties are flooded, he said.

Douglas said he’s redone the same bathroom three times in 14 years and previously lost a couple of feet of earth from his backyard, despite taking steps to prevent flooding. He asked council members if this situation would be acceptable if it were occurring at their homes.

“I am definitely looking for help,” he said, adding that he’s worried about the impact from cold weather this winter on his foundation and the thought that deterioration could mean water coming through the foundation itself.

Councilor Steven DiLorenzo asked Douglas if anyone from the town has addressed the storm drain. Douglas said it has been rebuilt at least twice and the second time it was “fixed very rapidly.” He said he’s not sure there is proper piping here, and knows that the piping in front of his house is too small to handle the water volume.