RI: More than half the state still without power

PROVIDENCE, RI – Stay off the roads if you can. That's the plea from state officials worried about the combination of heavy traffic and down traffic lights. Hundreds of signals are out across the state.

Governor Lincoln Chafee reminds drivers to treat a down signal like a four way stop intersection. "Yield to your right as you come into these intersections with no traffic signal, it tends that people want to keep going, keep going then you have the accident."

National Grid says it will take days to get all the lights back on in Rhode Island. In Rhode Island half of National Grid customers were still in the dark this morning. The utility says it's going to be days before all of the lights go on.

Amtrak says service between Boston and Philly is canceled Monday due to flooding, power issues and debris tossed on the tracks by Tropical Storm Irene. Acela Express service between Boston and Washington DC is also canceled.

Many of the flights departing from TF Green Monday morning are cancelled, resuming as the day progresses. Flights are expected to take off again at New York's three main airports and flights in Philadelphia and Washington DC resumed Sunday.

School Closings
Schools across the state are closed pushing back orientations and the first day of school. Barrington Public Schools is closed today, so is Jamestown Public Schools and Warwick Public Schools. Bristol-Warren Public Schools, Cranston, North Kingstown, Providence, School for the Deaf, have pushed back the first day until Wednesday.

For more school closings click here

Storm Damage
Newport Police reported heavy surf Sunday tossing chunks of the seawall has closed Ocean Drive, Memorial Blvd was closed near Easton's Beach, and in the Point Section of Newport, Second and Third streets were under water.

In Westerly, Town Manager Steven Hartford says flooding was also a problem there around the Misquamicut area with Atlantic Avenue under water. He says hundreds of homes were flooded and that his phone was flooded with calls from resident who left the area and wanted to know about their homes.

Around Providence, trees and limbs are reported down across the city. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lowered the gates that Fox Point Hurricane Barrier. Tropical Storm Irene was the first test of the barrier since it was built back in the 1960's. At India Point Park, dozens of residents came out to see the effects of Irene. Jerry Critch is one of them, "I thought it was going to be worse, it's not too bad," Critch said before noon Sunday.

In Warwick the storm brought flooded streets, downed trees and power lines. For much of Sunday residents were banned from driving on city streets. The neighborhoods of Conimicut Point, Oakland Beach and Chepiwanoxet were the worst hit.

Flash flooding near Conimicut Point forced emergency evacuations for some residents who were taken by their homes on the front end of a pay loader.

Downed trees and branches lined several streets in the area, including Bellman Avenue where resident John Paul was eating a slice of pizza bread and assessing a neighbor's fallen tree.

"A lot of trees, a lot of water, there's damage along all the sea walls, part of our backyard's damaged, we live in this house over here," says Paul.

The Rhode Island Department of Health has issued a precautionary boil water advisory for customers of the East Smithfield Water District. That's for residents in North Providence who live on the following streets: North Elemore Avenue, Sherri Drive, Joyce Drive, Wendi Drive, Lori Drive, Polly Drive, Julia Drive, Wood Heaven Blvd., Esther Drive, Karen Drive, Sherwood Avenue, Robert Drive, and Barbara Ann Drive. Residents are asked to conserve water until water pressure is restored.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@wrni.org.