HARTFORD, CT – Gov. Ned Lamont says Hurricane Henri, which intensified Saturday into a Category 1 hurricane and is forecasted to make landfall just east of New Haven early Sunday, is going to be particularly severe for a few reasons.
First, Lamont said the ground is already saturated by the rainfall over the past week and the storm is expected to drop eight or more inches of rain, which he said will lead to flooding.
“Combine that with the fact that we’re going to have an astronomical tide,” Lamont said. “I mean astronomical in the sense that we’re going to have a very full moon, the highest tides you can have. That, combined with the wind, gives a real risk of flooding along the coastline and interior flooding given the saturation of the soil.”
Henri’s winds are expected to reach 70 to 80 mph, with gusts up to 90 mph, and the storm’s forecasted to turn eastward, crossing Massachusetts and onward up the New England coast.
Lamont said Eversource and United Illuminated have warned the governor that there could be hundreds of thousands of outages over the next few days. Eversource officials said the company will declare a Level 2 Emergency Response Plan (ERP) Sunday morning.
According to Eversource’s storm rating system, a Level 2 ERP means they expect that between 50% and 69% of their customers in the state could lose electricity, and that efforts to restore power could last eight to 21 days.
Lamont, however, outlined the amount of communication that’s been occurring between state, federal agencies, and the utility companies since Tropical Storm Isaias last August, and said that the state is ready.
“I don’t think Connecticut has ever been as well prepared for a storm as we are for Henri,” Lamont said, adding that the utilities have assured him that they are going to have twice as many people on the ground, pre-positioned for response as they had a year ago.
Officials also said that the federal government has been asked to help reach out to states outside the region in order to send more restoration crews and equipment this way.
Asked whether the electric grid’s key infrastructure – the transmission corridors with the heavy-duty power lines – have been adequately maintained, Lamont said the state has been working closely with the utilities to ensure that they’ve been tree trimming, and that there are fewer trees vulnerable to crashing down on transmission lines.
“I think there’s been progress there, and I hope you see that progress,” Lamont said.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and Lamont both asked state residents to get prepared, with batteries, water, and three to five days of food, and also to reach out to neighbors who may need help in the coming days, and to stay in contact with them.
The governor also urged residents to stay safe by staying home during the storm, and to utilize 211 by phone or online to find needed services.
Lamont also said the state is communicating with nursing homes and keeping cooling centers ready with an eye toward being ready for the days after the storm during which temperatures may reach 90 degrees.
FEMA has personnel in the state and officials said more emergency generators are on the way.
If you are unsure of whether you are in a flood zone or whether you may need to evacuate, the state has set up a website with maps in pdf format as well as an interactive map to check by address here.
Watch Saturday’s briefing below:
The next briefing on the storm is scheduled for 2 p.m., Sunday.