Coastal evacuations encouraged as Hurricane Henri heads north

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This OES-16 East GeoColor satellite image taken on Friday, August 20, 2021 at 11:40 a.m. EDT, and provided by NOAA, shows Tropical Storm Henri in the Atlantic Ocean. Henri is expected to turn into a hurricane by Saturday, the United States National Hurricane Center said. The impacts could be felt in New England states by Sunday, including Cape Cod, which is teeming with tens of thousands of summer tourists. (NOAA via AP)

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People evacuated popular seaside communities and ran last-minute errands with batteries and gasoline as Hurricane Henri approached Long Island and southern New England, as officials pleaded with the millions of people on the way to the storm to prepare for torrential rains and storm surges.

Hurricane Henri was about to collide late Sunday morning or afternoon with a long stretch of coastline, as hurricane warnings spread from near the old whaling port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, through the luxurious oceanfront estates of New York’s Hamptons, to the Fire Island summer getaway.

Intense winds and potentially dangerous tidal waves were expected as far east as Cape Cod and as far west as the Jersey Shore, and utilities have warned that the power outages that s ‘could last a week or even longer. Governors urged people to stay at home during the brunt of the storm.

Henri was veering a bit further west than originally intended, placing eastern Long Island in his target rather than New England. This gave people directly on the way to the storm less time to prepare.

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for some residents closest to water in Madison, Connecticut. First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons wrote in a public notice that “residents who do not leave the evacuation area before 9 p.m. tonight are life threatening and public safety teams will not be able to respond to you once. that the winds will exceed 50 mph “.

Residents and visitors to Fire Island, a narrow strip of sandy villages barely above sea level off the south coast of Long Island, have been urged to evacuate. The last boats to leave will leave on Saturday at 10:40 pm; after that, officials said, there may be no way out for those who decide to weather the storm.

Guests at the Palms Hotel on Fire Island left throughout Saturday on the ferries, said general manager Laura Mercogliano.

“They sent double the number of boats so everything went well. And a lot of restaurateurs and business owners are just securing all of their items outside right now, ”she said.

The hotel will reopen on Monday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo pleaded with New York residents to make last-minute preparations, warning that Henry’s heavy rains, winds and storm surges could be as devastating as Super Storm Sandy in parts of the country. State. The governor, who will step down in two days following a sexual harassment scandal, has warned heavy rains are expected to create problems as far as the Hudson River Valley.

“We have short notice. We’re talking about tomorrow, ”Cuomo said. “So if you have to move, if you have to stock up, if you have to go to higher ground, it has to be today. Please.”

Gov. Ned Lamont has warned Connecticut residents they should prepare to “shelter in place” from Sunday afternoon to at least Monday morning as the state braces for the first possible direct hit from a hurricane since decades. In Rhode Island, Governor Dan McKee also urged residents of the state to stay at home on Sunday and Monday morning.

“We consider this to be serious business,” McKee said at a press conference.

Officials said Boston’s Logan International Airport is expected to remain open, but some flights will likely be canceled. And service on some branches of New York’s commuter rail system will be suspended on Sunday.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Saturday expressed relief that the latest models suggest Henry will not hit the state directly.

But Baker and McKee in separate briefings warned that high winds and heavy rains could still lead to widespread and prolonged power outages.

New York has not been directly affected by a powerful cyclone since Super Storm Sandy wreaked havoc in 2012. Some of that storm’s most significant repairs have been completed, but many projects designed to protect against future ones. storms remain unfinished.

With a maximum wind speed of 75 mph (120 km / h) on Saturday, Henri accelerated to move north-northeast to 18 mph (29 km / h) on Saturday night. It’s still about 335 miles (540 kilometers) south of Montauk Point on Long Island.

Southampton City Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the city is considering issuing a voluntary evacuation notice for around 6,000 people. He said storm models showed the center of the storm would be “right in the city of Southampton”. He described a race with supplies like batteries and flashlights as people “start to wake up.”

Regardless of its exact landing, large impacts were expected over much of the northeast, extending inland to Hartford, Connecticut and Albany, New York, and east to Cape Cod, which is teeming with tens of thousands of summer tourists.

A storm surge of between 3 and 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters) is possible from Flushing, New York, to Chatham, Mass., And for parts of the north shore and south shore of Long Island, said the hurricane center.

Rainfall of between 3 and 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters) is expected from Sunday to Monday.

Officials in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York have warned people could lose power for days. Authorities have advised people to secure their boats, refuel their vehicles and stock up on canned food.

In the Hamptons, the celebrity playground on the eastern end of Long Island, officials have warned of dangerous currents and flooding that could turn streets like the mansion-lined Dune Road into lagoons.

“We have a lot of rich people. There is no doubt that we do, but everyone is mobilizing in an emergency, “Schneiderman said.” So, you know, yeah, there are people hanging out on their yachts right now drinking. martinis, but they’re also starting to talk about this storm and I’m sure they’ll want to help.

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