Why Does Providence Keep Flooding?

by Jezel Tracey '24 on September 15, 2022
Opinion Staff


On Monday, September 5, what was expected to be a holiday break full of darties and naps rapidly turned into a modern Noah’s Ark. On Labor Day weekend, heavy rainfall surged into the streets of Providence and nearby communities. With every rain storm, Providence seems to flood. Wet roads and sidewalk puddles have become part of Providence’s charm, but a solution exists. Ultimately, outdated infrastructure combined with the impacts of climate change have left the Ocean State willfully unprepared for major rain events. 

While it seemed to be a normal rainy day, Providence’s drainage system failed to perform . This may be a surprise for some, but last month there was also a flash flood that overwhelmed the streets of Providence. So, whenever it rains excessively, it is no surprise that Providence and its nearby communities are inclined to flood. 

This heavy rainfall did not only wreak havoc on the streets of Providence but also affected PC campus life. Due to such long-lasting rain, instead of seeing groups of people traveling down to Eaton street for darties, students used the holiday as an opportunity to catch up on work. 

From the perspective of inside campus, it looked like a rainy day at PC. However, just a few miles away roads were closed, highways were flooded, buildings were damaged, and daily life was chaotic.  

Unfortunately, this was the same day that BOP had traveled to Newport. Interestingly, PC student Natalia Alzate ’24 says, “It was drizzling when we were in Newport so we never expected it to be so bad when traveling back to campus. A trip that was supposed to be 45 minutes took us three hours.” 

While it was just another rainy day at PC, it felt like a hurricane in the city of Providence and its nearby communities. This calls into question the quality of the city’s drainage system and procedures.  

Given that there was a flash flood not too long ago last month, it seems to be that what happened on Labor Day was of no shock to the residents of Providence – which means that the drainage issue was brought to attention, but not resolved. Myles Johnson ’24 remarked, “You never realize how bad a problem is until you have to fix it. The rain that fell should not have caused flooding. Hurricane Sandy and other casualties have passed and did not cause the I-95 to flood the way it did.” 

Why has this issue been unaddressed? Why are we continuing to ignore climate change?

While it is common to view flooding as something inevitable, there are a lot of factors that play a part in this catastrophe. One of the most imperative factors leading to this unfortunate event is the oversight by the city’s officials. Providence can no longer put infrastructure investments off to the side. There are grave issues that lie underneath the flooded walkways.