Providence, RI – The state government is open for business as usual today - a day after all non-essential employees were told to stay home. At seven o'clock yesterday morning Governor Carcieri's office urged all schools and businesses to follow his lead by requiring only essential personnel to report to work. With a big section of Interstate 95 closed, his major concern was gridlock.
"We don't have roadways sufficient and the worst thing for us now would be to have major gridlock because it affects a range of public safety issues," Carcieri said.
But the advice came too late. Two thirds of the state's school districts remained open. School buses were on the road, joining tens of thousands of commuters who hadn't gotten the message either. Even by late morning traffic south of Providence was grid-locked.
One person who wasn't contributing to the gridlock was David Alviano. He was busy at home in Cranston, vacuuming water out of the basement he remodeled just a month ago. "The ground's just saturated and the water's coming up," Alviano said. "It's got nowhere to go. It's just pushing up through every crack it can get through."
His neighbors in the Garden Hills section of Cranston were in the same boat. Eighty-one year old Phyllis Smith had her children vacuuming water out of her basement.
"I've never been flooded like this," Smith said. "We cleaned it up yesterday and this morning it's back. It's coming up through the concrete. Any little crack the water's coming in."
She resolved to never let it happen again.
"I'm going to put a pump in," she said. "I can't do this again. No way."
Down the street Carol Celemme's son was performing the same labor of love for her.
"I've been in this house 38 years and I've never had one drop of water," she said. "I made up for it yesterday. I got 38 years' worth. I left a nice finished basement. I came home to a mess."
Homeowner insurance policies don't cover flood damage and very few Rhode Islanders carry flood insurance. But after a month of record rainfall across the region - and the worst flooding in Rhode Island in more than a hundred years -- many people are regretting that today.