Workers on Tuesday boarded up the windows of a Cranston apartment complex that was inundated by floodwaters on Labor Day, while tenants tried to get inside to assess the damage.
Some residents were rescued by boat when the flash flood hit Monday.
"It was the most terrifying thing I ever saw in my life. I thought my patio door was going to break, the water was so high," said Carla Champlin, a tenant of Dean Estates.
"All of a sudden we heard a crash; the glass door shattered," said Jeremy Sullivan.
Sullivan said the water pushed his neighbor's door toward the exit. He and his fiance's family scrambled to escape the rush of water.
"We had to get her grandmother up and over the door. Her brother came back down to help. He pretty much got sucked under the water. We could barely push them up and over the door," Sullivan said.
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, residents of the upper floors were allowed back inside to retrieve what they could.
"We are not allowed to let anyone on the first-floor units right now because they have been deemed unsafe until we get the water out of the basement and check the structure," said property manager Casey Medas.
All day, water was being pumped out, and cars disabled by the flooding were towed out.
Those on the first floor, where the water reached the ceiling, were resigned to the fact they lost everything.
For Sullivan, who lost his infant son five months ago, there is one thing for which he is grateful.
"They came back down to get my necklace that has my son's ashes in it. It's the only thing I have left of my son. They risked coming back in with all that sewage to get that stuff for us," he said. "I'm really grateful to the fire department."
The Red Cross said it is helping more than 50 people displaced by the flood.
Tenants met Tuesday night with city and community leaders in a session that was closed to the news media.
But one woman told NBC 10 News that she was not satisfied with what she heard.
"They just told us that the structure was not safe and we have no word if we can even get back. So, we asked what we were going to do with our trucks? What we're going to do with everything we've done? And they basically just had no answers. We asked them where we were all going to go tonight? They had no answers," said Marissa Delsanto, a tenant.
Many of the residents said they are upset because they were told they could rent trucks and get into the buildings to remove items Wednesday, but now they can't get in.