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Storm Henri drenches north-eastern United States

The storm sent lashing bands of rain westward, knocking out power to over 140,000 homes.

Waves pound a seawall in Montauk, New York as Tropical Storm Henri affects the Atlantic coast.
Waves pound a seawall in Montauk, New York as Tropical Storm Henri affects the Atlantic coast.
Image: Craig Ruttle/AP

TROPICAL STORM HENRI has rocked the north-eastern US with strong winds and rain as it made landfall on the coast of Rhode Island yesterday.

The storm sent lashing bands of rain westward, knocking out power to over 140,000 homes and causing deluges that closed bridges, swamped roads and left some people stranded in their vehicles.

The storm was downgraded from a hurricane before reaching New England, but the National Hurricane Centre warned the slow-moving storm would continue dumping heavy rains on wide swaths of the region well beyond the weekend.

Over two days, heavy, sustained rains flooded areas as far southwest as New Jersey, even as it took on tropical depression status.

The storm threatened to stall near the New York-Connecticut border overnight, before pivoting east and moving out toward the Atlantic Ocean today.

Some of the highest rain totals were expected inland. There were few early reports of major coastal damage due to wind or surf.

new-york-usa-22nd-aug-2021-new-hurricane-henri-causes-heavy-rainfall-and-damages-at-times-square-august-22-2021-new-york-usa-the-hurricane-henri-with-about-75-mph-with-dangerous-storm-surg Hurricane Henri causes Heavy Rainfall and damages at Times Square in New York. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

US President Joe Biden yesterday promised to provide federal help to the residents of affected states. The president declared disasters in much of the region, opening the opportunity for federal recovery aid.

Biden earlier had offered his condolences to the people of Tennessee, after severe flooding from an unrelated storm killed at least 22 people, including young children and older people, and left dozens of others missing.

When it made landfall near Westerly, Rhode Island, Henri had sustained winds of about 96 kph and gusts of up to 113 kph, according to the National Hurricane Centre.

By late last night, Henri had sustained winds of about 48 kph as it moved across Connecticut toward the New York state line.

Some of the worst rain arrived well before the storm’s centre. In Helmetta, New Jersey, some 200 residents fled for higher ground, taking refuge in hotels or with friends and family, as flood waters inundated their homes.

“It came so quick — in the blink of an eye,” said the town’s mayor, Christopher Slavicek, whose parents were spending the night after fleeing their home.

“Now there’s clean up. So this is far from over.”

Some communities in central New Jersey were inundated with as much as 20 centimetres of rain by midday yesterday.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said the storm was close to being in the “rear view mirror”, but said there was still more work to do, even as mandatory evacuations were being lifted in some communities.

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About 250 residents from four nursing homes on the shoreline had to be relocated to other nursing homes.

Several major bridges in Rhode Island, which stitch together much of the state, were briefly shuttered and some coastal roads were nearly impassable.

A star-studded concert intended to celebrate New York City’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic had to be called off halfway through on Saturday as Henri approached. 

Barry Manilow was singing Can’t Smile Without You in Central Park as part of a medley of his hits when heavy rain and lightning filled the sky.

His performance was interrupted by an announcement ordering concert-goers to immediately leave the park and seek shelter.

The National Weather Service recorded what could be the wettest hour ever in Central Park, with 1.94 inches of torrential rainfall pelting the park between 10pm and 11pm on Saturday.

After passing back through New England and sweeping out into the Atlantic over the next couple of days, the hurricane centre predicted, Henri “will lose its identity”.

Until then, areas from northeast Pennsylvania through New England braced for heavy rains.

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