Henri’s lazy remnants hinder cleanup, threaten inland floods

National

Waves pound the seawall in Montauk, N.Y., Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, as Tropical Storm Henri affects the Atlantic coast. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The slow and sprawling storm system named Henri drenched much of the inland Northeast with rain Monday, hampering cleanup efforts and threatening further flooding in areas with ground already saturated from a wet summer.

Rains from the storm, which spared coastal areas of New York and New England major damage when its center made landfall Sunday in Rhode Island as a tropical storm, deluged areas from New Hampshire to New York City and down to New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

More rain was forecast in New Jersey, where much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) had already fallen in some areas by Sunday and some areas were trying to clean up.

In the central New Jersey community of Helmetta, some 200 residents fled for higher ground, taking refuge in hotels or with friends and family, as flood waters inundated their homes Sunday.

“It came so quick — in the blink of an eye,” said Mayor Christopher Slavicek, whose parents were spending the night after fleeing their home. “Now there’s cleanup. So this is far from over.”

In Jamesburg, television video footage showed flooded downtown streets and cars almost submerged. In Newark, Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara said police and firefighters rescued 86 people in 11 incidents related to the storm.

Parts of New York’s Hudson Valley, north of New York City, had gotten 4 inches of rain by Monday morning and had no power and flooded roads. An additional couple of inches of rain was possible, and flood watches remained in effect.

Torrential downpours and new flooding were possible Monday in New England, and there was a chance of tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

New England officials fretted that just a few more inches of precipitation would be a back-breaker following a summer of record rainfall.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont was scheduled Monday to tour storm damage in Canterbury, where nearly 95% of Eversource customers lost electricity Sunday. More than 500 homes and businesses there, about 23%, remained without power Monday.

“It’s supposed to get nasty hot and humid again on Tuesday,” said Linda Orlomoski, who had no power late Sunday in Canterbury. “If we still have no power by then, that will be miserable.”

Hundreds of customers had no power in Maine, but outages were minimal in Vermont and New Hampshire by Monday morning.

The National Hurricane Center said Henri’s remnants were expected to stall near the Connecticut-New York state line, creep eastward through New England and eventually push out to the Atlantic Ocean. Rainfall from 1 to 3 inches was forecast over much of the area.

The system, now a tropical depression, was moving east at just 1 mph (2 kph).

President Joe Biden has declared disasters in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut, opening the purse strings for federal recovery aid to those states.

“We’re doing everything we can now to help those states prepare, respond and recover,” said the president, who also offered condolences Sunday to Tennessee residents, after severe flooding from an unrelated storm killed more than 20 people and left dozens missing.

When Henri made landfall near Westerly, Rhode Island, it had sustained winds of about 60 mph (97 kph) and gusts as high as 70 mph (110 kph).

It cut power to thousands, closed bridges, swamped roads and left some people stranded in their vehicles. Residents of four coastal nursing home residents had to be evacuated in Connecticut, several major bridges in Rhode Island were briefly shuttered Sunday, and some roads were nearly impassable.

Beach towns from the Hamptons on Long Island to Cape Cod in Massachusetts exhaled after being spared major damage. Concerns had been high when Henri was briefly rated a hurricane, with stronger winds and greater potential for a damaging storm surge, before it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

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