BRISTOL – Firefighters evacuated 28 people who were stranded in their homes overnight Wednesday and into Thursday because of flooding that made East Main Street impassable to a motor vehicle.
The rescues, which took place just after midnight, were a joint effort between the fire departments in Bristol and Plainville, each of which used a boat to bring individuals from their homes to the Plainville side of the street and temporarily to a fire station in Plainville for shelter, Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said.
Bristol Dep. fire Chief Robert Poggio said those who were rescued were then taken to the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott in Plainville.
“Half of the residents were from Bristol and half were Plainville,” Poggio said.
No injuries were reported.
Poggio said the rescues were completed by about 2 a.m.
“It went well,” the deputy fire chief said. “It’s just time consuming,” he added, as no more than two people can be safely taken aboard the rescue boat at a time.
The evacuations were not mandatory. Poggio said they were recommended in case someone in the home needed some kind of emergency services, in the event of a fire, medical situation or some other type of emergency.
“The problem is if the water goes up any more, we can’t get to them,” the deputy fire chief said. “They end up on their own. It’s not that often that we have to use the boat.”
The last time the deputy chief said he can remember the fire department having to make water rescues was after Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Zoppo-Sassu noted the most recent flooding in the city was exacerbated because Bristol has had localized flooding multiple times over the past few weeks, which included Hurricane Henri dumping rain for two straight days.
“The ground was saturated,” Zoppo-Sassu said.
City officials over the past few weeks have been trying to educate residents about keeping catch basins clear for storm drainage. But this most recent storm, she said, saw flooding mostly because of the Pequabuck River and Coppermine Brook.
In addition to East Main Street, Bristol saw flooding on Route 6, Louisiana Avenue, Clark Avenue, Frederick Street and a number of other roads, the mayor said.
Most parts of the city were OK in the overnight and early morning hours until after 4 a.m., when “all hell broke loose,” Zoppo-Sassu said. Around that time, she said, storm water from the uplands really started to flow.
“It was so swollen it had nowhere to go,” the mayor said.
Zoppo-Sassu said the water department director reported to her the sewer plant took in about 45 million gallons of water during and after the storm. In the course of one day, she said, it usually takes in about one-third of that.
The mayor also said the city had problems with its storm management system. For instance, she noted, water was flowing fine under the bridge on Frederick Street. But because the storm management system couldn’t keep up, water flowed into an adjacent parking lot and flooded it so much that she said she saw ducks swimming in it as if it was a pond.
Meanwhile, firefighters Thursday morning also had more than 20 calls for basements that saw flooding and needed to be pumped out.
“It’s crazy,” Poggio said. “We can barely keep up.”
According to the mayor, anyone whose basement has 6 inches of water or more can call the fire department for assistance clearing it out.
“We still have lots to do for cleanup,” the mayor said in late morning Thursday. “Crews have been out since midnight. Dispatch has been bustling since midnight.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or email@example.com.