- Residents and tourists are being told to leave some areas.
- States of emergency were declared in New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
- National Guard troops have been activated.
Mandatory evacuations are underway and several areas are under states of emergency as Hurricane Henri continues to track toward landfall sometime Sunday in New York or southern New England.
Dangerous storm surge, flooding, high winds and widespread power outages are possible in both coastal and inland areas as Henri moves in.
An evacuation order was issued Saturday evening for some residents in the Connecticut coastal community of Guilford, about 12 miles west of New Haven.
“The Town of Guilford Emergency Management Team is issuing a mandatory evacuation for residents living in coastal and/or low-lying areas, as well as other areas prone to historic flooding due to storm surges,” the city posted on Facebook at about 6 p.m. “This order is being issued because the town cannot assure that emergency personnel will be able to reach you should you require their assistance.”
A similar order was issued in the nearby town of Branford, where residents in the evacuation area were told to be out by 7 a.m. Sunday.
(MORE: The Latest Forecast for Hurricane Henri)
The city of New Haven recommended that residents in some flood-prone areas evacute to a safer location.
Several shelters were open.
All or parts of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island were under emergency declarations from their governors ahead of the storm. Local emergencies were also declared in several areas, including New York City.
President Joe Biden convened a conference call Saturday afternoon with the governors of those three states as well as Massachusetts, Maine and New Jersey. Federal emergency management officials were also on the call.
Residents are being advised to stock up on food and other supplies, top off their gas tanks, secure outdoor items including boats, and move vehicles out of flood-prone areas.
“Get your family prepared, check in on grandparents and older adults, make sure they have everything they need today,” Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee said in a news briefing Saturday. “We have time to prepare and we need to use it wisely.”
A voluntary evacuation was called for a section of the town of Westerly, Rhode Island, effective at 9 a.m. Sunday.
A voluntary evacuation was already underway on Fire Island, New York, with the last ferry set to leave at 10:40 p.m. Saturday.
“But people should expect those boats to be full and should make plans to leave as soon as they can to avoid potential capacity issues,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone posted on Twitter.
Earlier, Bellone tweeted: “I am announcing a voluntary evacuation order to urge residents and visitors of Fire Island to leave for their own safety.”
Fire Island is a thin barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island and is a popular tourist destination.
“That’s a big issue for us,” Bellone told The Weather Channel earlier Saturday. “We’re at the height of the summer season as this storm approaches.”
Shelters were set to open Saturday evening at the following area high schools: East Hampton, Sachem East, Brentwood, Hampton Bays, and Riverhead.
Suffolk County includes the eastern part of Long Island as well as barrier islands parallel to it.
“This is a serious storm, it’s a significant storm and people should be prepping for, taking precautions, and leaving the area if necessary,” Bellone said.
(MORE: Tracking Henri)
The ground in much of region is already saturated from rain brought in recent days by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred. That means trees might be more likely to fall over and take power lines with them.
“Not all the impacts are going to be in the same spot,” weather.com digital meteorologist Jonathan Belles said. “Surge is going to be east, rainfall flooding will be further west.”
Mitch Gross, a spokesperson for Connecticut utility company Eversource, said 4,000 power crews were standing by in that state alone.
“This is unprecedented,” Gross told The Weather Channel. “We’ve never had as large a contingent as we will have for this storm.”
He warned that nearly half of the company’s customers in Connecticut could face power outages, and that it could take five to 10 for complete restoration.
Officials reminded people to follow the appropriate safety guidelines when using generators, and never use one inside or close to an enclosed structure.
On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged visitors to Cape Cod to leave ahead of the storm, and those planning to come to wait until it passes.
National Guard troops were called up in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut.
Delta and American Airlines announced they were waiving change fees for flights impacted by the storm at several airports, Boston as well as New York’s LaGuardia and Kennedy.
If Henri makes landfall as a hurricane in New England, it would be the first to do since Hurricane Bob went ashore in Rhode Island 30 years ago this week. If it makes landfall on Long Island, it would be first direct hit there since Hurricane Gloria in 1985, although several storms have impacted the island since then, including Isaias last .year.
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