As Henri Blows in, Shoreline Towns Issue Evacuation Orders, Open Shelters

Several shoreline Connecticut towns are under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders in preparation for Hurricane Henri, which is expected to make landfall on Sunday. 

The National Weather Service has issued a Hurricane Watch for Henri from New Haven over to Westport, Mass., and Block Island. Rainfall is expected to start along the coast between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Sunday. Henri is make landfall Sunday evening as a Category 1 Hurricane with a storm surge that could reach 5 feet. 

Madison’s Board of Selectmen issued a mandatory evacuation order on Saturday for all residents in Madison who live South of Boston Post Road. Residents are ordered to leave by 9 p.m. on Saturday. 

“We are expecting significant power outages throughout Madison similar to those experienced last summer from Tropical Storm Isaias, and major coastal flooding in our beach communities similar to Hurricane Sandy,” Madison First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons said in an emergency update.  

Old Saybrook, East Lyme and Old Lyme have all issued voluntary evacuation orders. Old Saybrook’s Emergency Management Department has published a list of streets where they strongly recommend that residents evacuate, the majority south of I-95. Old Lyme is encouraging residents of the beach communities to evacuate. 

Clinton has issued a voluntary evacuation order for areas south of Route 1, along with “the Kelseytown watershed area with additional emphases on Princess Pine Lane, Woods Lane, Whippoorwill Lane and Ironworks Road.” Cedar Island is under a mandatory evacuation order. 

East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson in a video encouraged East Lyme residents who have medical conditions or are living in low-lying areas to evacuate. 

“This is the first Hurricane we will see in Connecticut in the last 30 years. We knew Sandy was bad, Irene was bad … this is going to be worse,” said Nickerson.“We are seeing a storm surge, a rise in the tide of three to five feet. Anybody in low-lying areas, take warning.” 

“An astronomical tide”

At a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Gov. Ned Lamont said that a combination of factors could make this storm particularly severe. He said the recent rainfall has saturated the soil, increasing the risk of flooding. 

“We’re going to have an astronomical tide,” said Lamont. “Astronomical in the sense that we have a very full moon, the highest tides you can have. That, combined with the wind gives real risk of flooding along the coastline and interior flooding.” 

According to Lamont, the state is looking at over eight inches of rain and wind speeds of between 70 and 80 miles per hour. 

Eversource has said that between 50 and 69 percent of its customers in Connecticut — anywhere from 625,000 to 862,500 people — could lose power from the storm, and that it could take between 8 and 21 days to restore. 

Peter Nystrom, the mayor of Norwich, also mentioned the danger of flash floods.

“Flooding is an issue for us here in the city, we’ve had those issues even in super heavy rain storms,” he told CT Examiner. 

Nystrom said he was particularly concerned about the area across from Backus Hospital, including Bliss Place, and the Norwichtown area. He said the city would have a shelter at the Kelly Middle School beginning at 6 p.m. tonight.

Chief of Emergency Management Thomas Curcio told CT Examiner that his team had been preparing for the storm for the last week. The city will be opening an emergency shelter tonight at the Winthrop School at 71 Grove Street. The shelter, which holds 200 people, is staffed with Red Cross volunteers and workers from Ledge Light Health District.

Mayor Michael Passero of New London said the city was considering a voluntary evacuation order in the Ocean Beach neighborhood. 

“Fortunately, New London does not have a lot of low tidal area,” he told CT Examiner. 

Curcio said the Emergency Management Team was going door-to-door to advise people in vulnerable areas about evacuation. 

There will be shelters available across the shoreline, including at the East Lyme Middle School, at Old Saybrook Senior High School on Boston Post Road, at the Town Campus Gym at 8 Campus Drive in Madison and at Stonington High School. 

The East Lyme Middle School shelter is pet-friendly and open to residents of Old Lyme, East Lyme, Lyme, Montville, and Waterford. 

While the shelter is available for people who need it, Nickerson encouraged people to go to family and friends if at all possible.

“Wearing a mask and being in the middle school for multiple days is pretty stressful,” he said in the video.  

Shore Line East, the Metro-North, New Haven Line, CT Transit bus services and ferries will be suspended beginning early Sunday morning.

Lamont said in the press conference on Saturday that Eversource and United Illuminating would have twice as many people on the ground to respond as during Tropical Storm Isaias last year. Two hundred members of the National Guard have also been called into the state. 

“We’re prepared for what could be a tough storm,” said Lamont. “We’ve got the folks on the ground ready to hit the ground running and do everything we can to keep you safe.” 

Residents looking for information can call 211 or go online to 211.org.

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