Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
FREETOWN -- It wasn't the usual way that Gary Fernandes gets home. Fernandes, an 18-year resident of town, was sitting in the back of a special State Police tracked vehicle today, waiting for a ride to his neighborhood, which was cut off by floodwaters from the past two days' rain.
Fernandes said he just "watched the bridge wash out. They were putting in blocks of cement that were about 3 feet by 3 feet by 8 feet in the hole and they were just disappearing. It was unbelievable. It's pretty much filled in right now, but the water's still coming over the road."
The storm that dumped buckets of rain on southern New England on Monday and Tuesday waned today, with the downpours thinning to a drizzle. But problems caused by the water persisted, and it may take days for people to recover, officials said.
Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said that over the next day or so, rivers across eastern Massachusetts are expected to crest.
But he cautioned, "That doesn't mean they're going down real quick."
He said it would be the beginning of next week before all the rivers are back within their banks. And people will find, he said, that "it's going to be a long slow process before their streets are dry or their basements are dry."
Judge said officials are focusing on Bristol County in southeastern Massachusetts, particularly the Fall River area, where people had to be evacuated Tuesday because of flooding worries at North and South Watuppa Ponds; and the Freetown-Lakeville area, where there were also concerns about the Forge Pond Dam and the Monument Dam.
Flooding in Rhode Island forced the cancellation this afternoon of all Amtrak service between New Haven and Boston, said railroad spokesman Cliff Cole. He said it wasn't clear when service would resume because it depended on when the water receded from the tracks.
Most rivers in eastern Massachusetts are in flood stage, said Rebecca Gould, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.Gould. The Sudbury River at Saxonville, the Charles River at Dover, and the Assabet River at Maynard continue to rise.
“It's still not a good situation," she said.
A flood warning has been continued for the Squannacook River at West Groton, Shawsheen River near Wilmington, Blackstone River at Northbridge, Merrimack River at Haverhill, Lowell and Lawrence, Assabet River at Maynard, Nashua River at East Pepperell, Spicket River near Methuen, Sudbury River at Saxonville, Concord River at Lowell, Charles River at Dover, Connecticut River at Northampton, and Neponset River at Norwood.
Seven inches or more of rain fell in Rehoboth, Taunton, Dighton, and Weymouth, Foxborough, and Middleborough, according to data released this afternoon by the weather service. Boston got off relatively easily, with a total of 5.55 inches. Rhode Island was particularly hard hit, with nearly 10 inches of rain recorded in North Kingstown, South Kingstown, and Coventry.
Nearly 900 National Guard soldiers and airmen have been mobilized to help in flood relief, said Major Mark Brewster, a Guard spokesman. He said Guard members were making sandbags in Lexington and Sutton; distributing sandbags there and in three other towns; delivering them to Clinton; and assisting police in Lakeville. He said engineers were also being sent with special barriers, similar to Jersey barriers, to shore up the Forge Pond Dam in Freetown.
The Peabody Fire Department performed about two dozen water rescues overnight, said Deputy Fire Chief Richard Nelson. About half of those rescues involved motorists stranded in their vehicles; the others involved individuals who were attempting to leave their homes by foot.
"This is worse than it was," Nelson said, referring to the flooding from a major rainstorm earlier this month. "More streets are closed this time around."
Four members of the National Guard -- with two Humvees -- arrived late Tuesday night to assist the fire department, and they are lending a hand with pump detail today, Nelson said.
In Clinton, 3,000 sandbags were being placed to prevent flooding from the overflowing, Coachlace Pond and Wachusett Reservoir, said Fire Captain Michael Lutes.
In Framingham, residents at the bottom of Circle Drive, a street located near the Sudbury River, were battling floodwaters reaching as high as a foot on some parts of the road.
Deb Magee, 54, said that about three feet of water had wrecked the contents of her basement, which included an entertainment center, a washer, and a bed for a friend living at the house. She said damages were "in the thousands."
"I'm in rough shape," Magee said.
Her neighbors across the street, April Rastani, 29, and Ryan Rastani, 31, said that a firefighter told them earlier today that they could evacuate if they wanted.
"We've got stuff to protect here," Ryan said.
April said that they had about two feet of water in the basement this morning but pumped most of it out.
They did, however, lose an elliptical machine and a couch that were stored in the cellar.
"It's all over for the couch," April said.
Today’s temperatures should linger around the mid-40s and dip toward the lower 40s tonight. The weather is expected to take a sharp turn for the better Thursday, with mostly sunny skies and highs around 60 degrees.
Temperatures should reach the lower 60s in Greater Boston on Friday, and should hit the 70s over the weekend, Gould said.
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