(NECN: Ally Donnelly, Warwick, RI) - President Barack Obama's Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, will visit Rhode Island on Friday to see firsthand the state's worst flooding in history.
Cars and trucks chug along Route 1 in Warwick Rhode Island -- many diverted off Interstate 95 which had been shut down since Tuesday -- after the swollen Pawtuxet River sloshed over it's banks -- flooding the highway.
Exclaims one man, "Parking lot."
Said Ariana Parillo of Cranston, "I was going like 5 on the highway, it was just awful."
"I think it's ridiculous," said a man who would only give his first name, Matt.
Matt and Brittany in bumper to bumper -- trying to get to work on time. Ha! Good luck.
"We don't even know where we are right now and I don't have GPS," said Brittany. "We're just following the crowd."
A massive operation kicked off Wednesday night as the Pawtuxet finally began to recede. Emergency crews with hulking pumps trying to wring out the super-soaked highway and get it back open for business.
"It's just a big version of your basement, that's all it is," said Mike Lewis, director of Rhode Island's Department of Transportation.
At the worst of it, the Pawtuxet came over it's banks, flooded out 95 southbound, breached the jersey barrier, flooded northbound and then washed out all they way to the exit ramp. In the end, more than three feet of water.
"You get a look at that from the air and think my God, what are these people going through," said Lewis.
Lewis said it was stunning to shut down 95 -- a throughway that hasn't been closed since the blizzard of 1978.
"95 is the lifeblood of Rhode Island," he says, "It's the lifeblood of NE, it is the Boston-New York connection."
Finally, just before 3pm -- 95 Southbound re-opened. North bound quickly followed suit....and a uniform chorus could be heard from drivers across the land.
"Thank God," said Brittany, "thank God."