CRANSTON, Rhode Island (WJAR) – Several inches of rain fell hard and fast in Cranston, Rhode Island Monday, triggering flash floods that wiped out the lower levels of two different buildings within the Dean Estates Luxury Apartments complex.
Those who were home when the water flooded through say they only narrowly escaped with their lives.
“The basement apartments were flooded out. They were up to the ceiling in no time. It was a touch and go situation for a little while here, so the guys did a great job. These people were scared, and they should have been scared. It was quite the scene when we showed up. We’ve seen a lot of floods and this was something,” said Cranston Deputy Fire Chief Paul Valletta.
About 30 residents took refuge on the floor above, and had to be evacuated by boat. Most people on the lower levels lost everything.
“The couch was floating, my bed was floating, everything is just floating around. And I had things packed because I was supposed to be moving tomorrow, but apparently we’re not taking anything with us now so,” said resident Stephanie Mendez.
Julie England says she just barely made it out of her basement unit alive with her 4-year-old daughter, her elderly mother, her fiance and her brother who was just home from serving in the U.S. military in Korea.
“And we were walking out, well dragging our feet in water and I’m like holding onto her like this, and the water is just getting deeper and deeper, and then the couch starts to move in front of her and I’m like trying to keep the couch to the side and my fiancé is behind me trying and then we got her out the doorway and it took what seemed like ages,” said England.
At least five residents NBC 10 spoke with said this is not the first time Dean Estates Luxury Apartments have been flooded.
“This is the third time that this has happened to my vehicle, and my bedroom. Now we have no place to live,” one resident said.
“I really think that the situation was ongoing, and they knew that they needed to fix this problem. My mom’s car was totaled from a similar flood in July,” said England.
The director of the property management company that runs the complex says the flood was Mother Nature’s fault.
Levy said, “We’ve owned it for several years, and as you can see it’s a natural disaster. It’s terrible,” said Stuart Levy with Universal Properties.
When NBC 10 asked, “What do you say to some residents who’ve told us that they don’t believe the storm drains were properly cleared?”
“That I don’t know. You’ll have to talk with the city about that, I don’t know.”
But the city of Cranston maintains that it is not the city’s responsibility. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung vehemently denied that the city has anything to do with the storm drains in that area.
“If it happened on the Dean Estates Luxury Apartments parking lot, that’s a private property. This building is not owned by the city of Cranston at all. And if the drain in question is on private property, it’s the private properties, the management company’s responsibility to maintain it, not the city’s,” said Fung.
At least one elderly woman who lived in one of the lower units had to be hospitalized after the flood. And one firefighter was treated for an ankle injury after being caught in a sink hole inside one of the damaged buildings.
Both the American Red Cross and the property management company have stepped in to help displaced people find shelter.