Henri menaces Northeast as millions prep for winds, flooding

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By DAVID KLEPPER, MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and DAVID PORTER

WESTERLY, R.I. (AP) — Tropical Storm Henri steamed toward the northeastern U.S. coastline Sunday morning, packing precocious winds and dense rains that were projected to permission a wide swath of devastation from New Jersey and New York to Massachusetts.

The tempest was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical tempest but inactive packed upwind gusts of up to 75 mph. Officials warned of the information of wide flooding successful inland areas arsenic the tempest was expected to expanse westbound from the seashore earlier turning backmost to the Northeast.

Millions connected New York’s Long Island and successful confederate New England braced for the anticipation of flooding, toppled trees and extended powerfulness outages. Residents up and down the seashore hoped to beryllium spared the storm’s wrath but prepared for the worst.

Driving surf and sheets of rainfall scoured the formation towns of confederate Rhode Island arsenic the tempest approached, leaving immoderate coastal roads astir impassable. Some tiny trees had already fallen to the winds and rain, which had swollen section inlets and creeks.

Westerly nonmigratory Collette Chisholm, a 20-year resident, said the waves were overmuch higher than normal, but said she wasn’t acrophobic astir her location suffering extended damage.

“I emotion storms,” she said. “I deliberation they’re exciting, arsenic agelong arsenic nary 1 gets hurt.”

In Newport, Paul and Cherie Saunders were riding retired the tempest successful a location that her household has owned since the precocious 1950s. Their basement flooded with 5 feet of h2o during Superstorm Sandy 9 years ago.

“This location has been done truthful galore hurricanes and truthful galore things person happened,” Cherie Saunders, 68, said. “We’re conscionable going to hold and spot what happens.”

The tempest had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center reported Sunday morning, conscionable shy of hurricane status. The highest winds measured were 75 mph (121 kph) disconnected the seashore of Rhode Island.

Experts warned that the storm’s biggest menace apt won’t travel from upwind but from tempest surge and inland flooding, caused by what are expected to beryllium dense and sustained rains. Some of the highest rainfall totals were expected inland.

In 1 of his last appearances arsenic politician earlier helium is acceptable to measurement down astatine the extremity of Monday implicit a intersexual harassment scandal, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that with the menace to Long Island diminishing, the state’s superior interest were inland areas similar the Hudson River Valley, northbound of New York City, which was projected to get inches of rainfall implicit the adjacent fewer days.

Rainfall successful the Catskills “is a important problem,” Cuomo said. “In the Hudson Valley you person hills, you person creeks, the h2o comes moving down those hills and turns a creek into a ravaging river. I person seen tiny towns successful these mountainous areas devastated by rain. That is inactive a precise existent possibility.”

Troy Buckner of Southampton, successful eastbound Long Island’s Hamptons, wouldn’t fto the tempest interrupt his near-daily regular of getting java with his dada astatine the Golden Pear, 1 of the fewer spots unfastened connected Main Street Sunday morning.

“Today we thought we’d inactive effort to support a small spot of normalcy, but we’re heading backmost location for the remainder,” Buckner said arsenic the rainfall pelted down. “We program for the worst. You conscionable ne'er know. We ever expect Southampton could beryllium the center, the bull’s eye.”

A deficiency of large roadways connected the eastbound extremity of Long Island makes wide evacuations untenable, East Hampton Mayor Jerry Larsen said.

“We person 1 lane of question leaving the Hamptons truthful it’s a small hard to bid evacuations,” Larsen told The Associated Press. “So astir radical volition structure successful spot and, God willing, everyone volition travel done this OK.”

In mentation for the storm, officials successful Providence, Rhode Island, and New Bedford, Massachusetts, closed elephantine hurricane barriers that were built successful the 1960s, aft devastating storms successful 1938 and 1954.

Massachusetts’ Steamship Authority canceled each Sunday ferry work betwixt the mainland and the fashionable abrogation islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket aft the U.S. Coast Guard unopen down ports connected Cape Cod and New Bedford. Tourists waiting successful their cars, hoping for a last-minute ferry disconnected the islands, were stranded until the worst of Henri passes.

The archetypal thunderstorms bringing what could beryllium up to fractional a ft (15 centimeters) of rainfall arrived precocious Saturday, and flash flooding began successful immoderate areas overnight. Bands of dense rainfall overwhelmed tempest drains and drivers plowed done foot-deep h2o successful a fewer spots successful New York City, and Newark and Hoboken, New Jersey.

Gov. Ned Lamont warned Connecticut residents they should hole to “shelter successful place” from Sunday day done astatine slightest Monday greeting arsenic the authorities braces for the archetypal imaginable nonstop deed from a hurricane successful decades. Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee issued a akin warning.

President Joe Biden declared disasters successful overmuch of the region, opening the purse strings for national betterment aid. The White House said Biden discussed preparations with northeastern governors and that New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who succeeds Gov. Andrew Cuomo connected Tuesday, besides participated.

Major airports successful the portion remained unfastened arsenic the tempest approached, though hundreds of Sunday’s flights were canceled. Service connected immoderate branches of New York City’s commuter obstruction strategy was suspended done Sunday, arsenic was Amtrak work betwixt New York and Boston.

New York hasn’t had a nonstop deed from a almighty cyclone since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc successful 2012. Some of the astir important repairs from that tempest person been completed, but galore projects designed to support against aboriginal storms stay unfinished.

Regardless of its nonstop landfall, wide impacts were expected crossed a ample swath of the Northeast, extending inland to Hartford, Connecticut, and Albany, New York, and eastward to Cape Cod, which is teeming with tens of thousands of summertime tourists.

Storm surge betwixt 3 and 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters) was imaginable successful overmuch of Long Island Sound each the mode to Chatham, Massachusetts, and somewhat little connected Long Island’s Atlantic coast, the hurricane halfway said. Flash flooding was imaginable successful inland areas already saturated by caller rain.

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Kunzelman reported from Newport, Rhode Island. Associated Press writers David Porter successful New York, William J. Kole successful Warwick, Rhode Island, Mike Melia successful Hartford, Connecticut, and Mark Pratt successful Waltham, Massachusetts, contributed to this report.

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