Despite serious concerns about the threat of Hurricane Henri, downgraded to a tropical storm before making landfall in Rhode Island on Aug. 22, there has been little to no infrastructure damage in the region, according to state officials.
Henri’s center made landfall in at 12:15 p.m. near Westerly, R.I. west of Block Island Sound, packing sustained winds of about 60 mph with gusts up to 70 mph. It downed trees and power lines before weakening, then heading over western Massachusetts and Connecticut, where officials are keeping a close eye on continuing rainfall until Henri heads out to sea. Flooding is a concern in a water-logged region that has had record-high levels of rainfall this summer.
About 72,600 customers in Rhode Island and 8,500 in Massachusetts had no power as of 5 p.m. on Aug. 22, according to the National Grid. Power has already been restored to more than 31,400 customers in Rhode Island and 20,700 in Massachusetts. In Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) on Aug. 23 visited hard hit Canterbury to oversee restoration of power, where nearly 95% of Eversource customers lost electricity Sunday. Vermont and New Hampshire had few power outages, but hundreds of customers in Maine had no power the morning after Henri made landfall.
President Joe Biden has declared disasters in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut, which will allow for federal aid to those states.
A spokesman for the RIDOT says other than “minor damage to a fabric roof at a salt storage shed in Narragansett,” there have been no reports to date of “any significant damage to our roads and bridges.”
Following historic flooding in 2019, the agency installed gauges to monitor flow at bridges considered scour-critical that could experience erosion during abnormally high river flows, the spokesman says. The gauges “didn’t indicate any issues with this storm,” he says.
RIDOT is now inspecting roads and bridges and continuing to remove tree debris.
While there was no damage to roadway infrastructure or mass transit in Connecticut, 10 secondary state routes were still closed late Aug. 23 while trees and electrical wires were removed, according to a ConnDOT spokesman. Two ConnDot-operated ferry services on the Connecticut River were also closed due to high water.
ConnDOT “made sure that all equipment and assets were in place across the state at various satellite DOT facilities… all construction job sites were secured and all catch basins were clear,” he says.
Vermont Agency of Transportation Emergency Management Director Mike Touchette on Aug. 23 said no state roads had been impacted by the storm. He noted the southwest region of the state was hit worst and reported downed trees.
Mike Busam, operations manager for Providence, R.I.-based Gilbane Construction Co.’s Rhode Island team, says his team was “overprepared” for the storm because we secured our sites expecting a Category 1 or 2 level hurricane” before Henri arrived as a tropical storm. “We had no issues,” he says.
The Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation said it shut down construction sites ahead of the storm. No major flooding or infrastructure damage was reported.