Bristol crippled by stormy weather


Those keeping an eye on the storm via weather tracking websites reported that a band of severe weather seemed to linger over the Bristol area on Wednesday, sparing other parts of the East Bay.While torrential rains proved a little too reminiscent of the flooding of March 2010, flooded roads and unclear routes proved frustrating for those trying to navigate the maze of detours.

Linda Murray stood in the rain at the corner of Wood Street and Garfield Avenue. She was diverted from Woodlawn Avenue due to flooding on that street.

“I followed the detour signs and believed them,” said Ms. Murray.

Unfortunately, her route to Garfield Avenue was no better, with water rushing from Tanyard Brook, flooding the street and nearby yards. Her car stalled in the foot deep and rising water.

An hour and a half later, while fire crews pumped water from the Garfield Street onto Wood Street a flatbed truck arrived to pull her car from the receding water.

Throughout the day, police, fire, rescue and department of public works crews were busy responding to calls of flooded basements, impassible roads and at least two confirmed lightning strikes.

“We address it from the order of priority,” Fire Chief Robert Martin said. “Right now we’re pumping out four or five houses,” he said.

Chief Martin said that the calls resulting from Wednesday’s rain storm were typical to heavy rain events.

While the weather-related traffic jams were frustrating to motorists, they also were frustrating for the Bristol Warren School District. The basement at Colt Andrews School had “a considerable amount of water” in it, said Melinda Thies, superintendent of schools.

Students in the basement classrooms were moved to the Andrews school building while fire crews pumped the flood waters from the building.  School buses

At 5 p.m., roads were still at a standstill on Hope Street and Metacom Avenue, the two major access and egress points in Bristol.

Water rose over the stone wall near the intersection of Hope Street and Washington Road, making it impassible. Despite the rain and flooded roads, Mt. Hope High school and Guiteras were dismissed at regular time, Ms. Thies said. Due to traffic tie-ups, reaching the destinations were another problem, however. The last pick up bus for Guiteras School didn’t arrive at the school until 4:45 p.m.

At 5:15 p.m., busses from other schools were still on the road.

“We’re waiting for a call from First Student to let us now all the busses are back,” said Ms. Thies.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.