By day – The region ‘dodges a bullet’ with tropical storm Henri
Tropical Storm Henri quickly swept through southeast Connecticut early Sunday afternoon, the area avoiding predicted flooding and widespread power outages.
Henri, decommissioned from a category 1 hurricane, landed shortly after noon on Sunday in the western sector.
By 1 p.m., the sun was shining in Stonington and other waterfront communities with no rain or wind. At Stonington Point, a lone fisherman threw himself out of the parking lot where, hours earlier, waves had crashed into the rocks.
Early Sunday afternoon, Gary Lessor, chief meteorologist at Western Connecticut State University Weather Center, said the worst of the storm had passed for southeastern Connecticut.
The lessor said a large amount of rain fell over the area before the storm moved into central and western Connecticut early Sunday afternoon. A total of 2.5 inches fell in Groton and Quaker Hill and 3.6 inches in New London
The lessor agreed the area “dodged a bullet” as the storm and its 70 mph winds weakened before landing and then passing quickly.
“It certainly wasn’t what we expected, but we’re not going to complain,” First Selectman Tim Griswold said on Sunday afternoon.
Power outages from downed trees were far fewer than expected, with Eversource reporting just 98,000 statewide among its 1.3 million customers as of 5 p.m.
Groton has been the hardest hit local community in terms of power outages. Eversource said 999 of its Groton customers were without power at 5 p.m. and Groton Utilities reported 3,619 of its customers without power at noon. Groton City Manager John Burt and Groton Mayor Keith Hedrick had both declared a state of emergency for their municipalities.
Electricity was restored quickly in some communities.
At 1:37 pm Stonington had 1,236 customers without power, but by 5:00 pm there were only 65 left. Ledyard’s 1,002 outages had been halved to 550 by 5 pm. East Lyme had only 34 blackouts, Montville, 63, and New London, 132.
But North Stonington still had 821 outages at 5 p.m. and Griswold had 878, a slight increase from the start of the day. By 5pm, Waterford’s 508 outages had been reduced to 136. Norwich had 950 outages as of Sunday afternoon.
Throughout Sunday morning, communities in the area, particularly Groton, Westerly, Stonington, Mystic and North Stonington, all reported trees and cables and road closures as the storm approached from the south. is. Public works and utility teams continue to work in these areas.
In Norwich, where city leaders expected about 6 inches of rain on Sunday and localized flooding, the Yantic River level was below 2 feet at 10:45 a.m. on the National Weather Service flood indicator. The flood level is 9 feet.
Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London closed its COVID-19 testing site on Sunday and hoped to reopen it on Monday, a spokesperson for L + M said.
Lamont provides an update
At a 1 p.m. press conference, Gov. Ned Lamont said he had been in touch with Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee throughout the day and that the two states were working to help each other. In Rhode Island, more than 75,000 people were without power by 1 p.m.
Four nursing homes and their 280 Connecticut residents were evacuated to safer locations on Sunday due to concerns over the storm, including Apple Rehab in Mystic, where the neighborhood is prone to flooding. An Old Saybrook nursing home was also evacuated.
Although Tropical Storm Henri has been downgraded from a hurricane, Lamont said it still poses a threat and could cause significant damage and blackouts.
“Don’t be complacent, Sandy and Isaias weren’t hurricanes either,” he said.
The governor said that on Sunday afternoon he was most concerned about the threat of flash floods.
“I’m concerned about flash floods, I think that’s the biggest risk we have right now,” he said. High tides from a full moon and thin topsoil from a rainy week increased the possibility of flash flooding, he said.
Lamont said the state will work with the state’s Utilities Regulatory Authority and utilities to ensure power is restored as quickly as possible. He said there were twice as many ground crews as the state had in any previous storm. Lamont also called 200 members of the Connecticut National Guard on active duty to support the state’s response to the storm.
People who remain without power this week, when temperatures are expected to rise in the 90s, should call 211 to find out where the local cooling centers are. Cities will provide air-conditioned spaces where people can charge their phones, shower and cool off, state officials said.
If the outages last longer than 96 hours, people will also be able to claim reimbursement for lost food, expired medicines and the loss of power itself, a representative from PURA said. The 96-hour period begins when storm damage assessment teams reach the area.
Earlier Sunday, Lamont announced Sunday morning that President Joe Biden had approved his request that Connecticut receive a presidential emergency declaration before land arrives before the storm hits the state. The statement means that the federal government will provide assistance to the state in anticipation of the impact of the storm.
Emergency shelters were ready
While communities in the area such as Stonington, Norwich, Groton and East Lyme have all opened emergency shelters, they have only been used by a handful of people. The East Lyme site, which also serves Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme and Waterford, closed at 4 p.m. Sunday.
When Patrick Montgomery from Groton arrived at the American Red Cross evacuation shelter at Robert E. Fitch High School on Sunday morning, he was quite tired and hadn’t had breakfast yet.
American Red Cross volunteers were working to set up a cot and allow him to rest. They also plan to help Montgomery, who is diabetic, find something to eat that meets his dietary needs.
Montgomery said he came to the shelter – one set up at his old high school – after evacuating his home on Sunday morning in the Poquonnock Bridge area of Groton. He said it was the first time he had visited a shelter.
“I appreciate everything they do for me,” he said.
The town of Groton opened the shelter on Saturday evening to provide people with shelter from the storm, a place to sleep, meals and recharging areas. Animal control officers were also available at the shelter and people could bring their pets.
Kristina Roberge, Food Services Coordinator for Groton Public Schools, and Danielle Duclos, Second Cook at Fitch, made cranberry and cinnamon muffins Sunday mornings in the high school kitchen. Groton’s food service staff prepared meals in the kitchen for shelter guests, while the American Red Cross provided other shelter services.
Roberge said she thinks there are a lot of people who are scared, and the food service staff wanted to offer some comfort with food.
“It has been an unprecedented year, but I hope we can help – with food – someone to be a little calmer,” she said.
People at the shelter were required to wear masks and were asked COVID-19 testing questions before entering.
As of Sunday morning, fewer than 20 people were at the shelter, but she had heard more from people planning to come to the shelter, said Beth Rumery, director of the shelter.
She said volunteering at the shelter is one way to give back to her community and that she is lucky to have the time to do so.
Jeff Hamilton, president and CEO of Mohegan Sun, said early Sunday afternoon that the casino was closing a number of its restaurants and retail outlets, and that for the latest information, customers should check the website at https://mohegansun.com/storm-closings.html. He said the casino’s poker room was scheduled to reopen at 10 a.m. on Monday.
“Mohegan Sun is otherwise functioning normally,” Hamilton said. “Most of our fast food restaurants like Johnny Rockets and our Sky Rise food court are open, as is the Lansdowne Irish Pub and more. Other restaurants like TAO Asian Bistro & Lounge are also planning to open tonight. “
On Saturday, Mohegan Sun announced the postponement of a Jason Mraz concert scheduled for Sunday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The concert will be rescheduled.
Jason Guyot, president and CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino, said Sunday morning that the casino was adjusting to the impact of the storm.
“Foxwoods is open, secure and operational,” he wrote in an email. “We have condensed our operations around the Grand Pequot area of the resort with several dining and gaming options available on the property. We will continue to adapt our operations based on the availability of team members and the volume of business.
He said he hoped the casino would be able to resume normal operations Monday night through Tuesday.
The city had urged people to evacuate
In Groton on Sunday morning, town police, along with firefighters and paramedics traveled to low-lying areas, including along the Mystic River to the Noank Morgan Point area, parts of the Poquonnock Bridge and the area near the airport, to ask people to voluntarily evacuate, Captain James Bee said.
First responders knocked on doors and walked around making announcements through a public address system for anyone not answering the door, Bee said.
He added that Groton Long Point police were also asking for voluntary evacuations. The city police department shared a map on Facebook areas where people are strongly encouraged to evacuate before 10 a.m. Stonington also recommended evacuations from riparian and riparian areas.
Jennifer Donnell of Mystic was one of the few people walking in the rain mid Sunday morning along West Main Street in downtown Mystic. She had moved her car to the parking lot of the art museum because her land tends to be flooded and was assessing the amount of water in the streets and parking lots in the city center.
Donnell, who lives on the fourth floor of her building, had planned to take shelter in place and prepared by stocking up on water. She said she expected a lot of rain and wind and hoped she didn’t lose power, although she was sure everyone would likely lose power at some point.
She said that so far the storm has looked like a really bad rainstorm.
“I’m surprised more and more businesses don’t have sandbags outside their doors, but people are pretty optimistic, so hopefully that’s a good sign,” she said. .
Day Editors Claire Bessette
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