Irene was a tropical storm by the time it hit Woonsocket, but categories may have seemed irrelevant to residents who pulled trees from roadways and roofs as power went down in more than 6,000 city homes.
The storm rolled in during the early morning and winds gusts of up to 60 miles per hour were accompanied by hard rain that lasted for several hours. Trees and powerlines were the primary concern throughout the state and National Grid reported that 322,253 homes lost power. Although power has been restored to some parts of the city, many residents could be waiting for days as crews service lines from Woonsocket to Westerly.
Mayor Leo Fontaine reports that City Hall will be open today, though some services may be limited due to staff members that cannot attend. In Providence, 125 roads are still impassable and several streets throughout Woonsocket are still blocked off due to live wires in roadways.
"Power has been restored to many parts of the city and the highway department has been out all day clearing trees," Fontaine said Sunday night.
Thirteen evacuation shelters in the state opened at one point on Sunday, giving nearly 300 people shelter from the storm, said American Red Cross spokesperson Janet McGuire. “Volunteers worked two straight days to ready and support shelters, providing something to eat and a safe, dry place to stay.”
Now, McGuire says, some of those evacuation shelters will transition into something different: a place for those displaced to stay, potentially for several days. “Many families who left our shelters when the weather cleared today may be finding that they won’t have power for several days, or more unfortunately, that they have suffered damage that keeps them from returning home.”
Shelters remained open last night in several communities across Rhode Island. The best place to get information about shelters is to contact local government authorities or to call 211 Infoline.
State offices will function as usual today and employees are asked to report to work. All school activities at both Catholic and public schools in Woonsocket are cancelled. Check out our update for a full list of local closings and delays and visit the gallery to view photos from yesterday's storm. For a full recap of coverage throughout the state, check out Sunday's live blog.