- National Guard activated in Connecticut, Massachusetts.
- Residents from New York to Maine are being told to prepare for storm surge, wind and power outages.
- Deadly rip currents are a threat up and down the East Coast through the weekend.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is urging visitors to Cape Cod to change their plans.
“We’re strongly recommending that all travelers delay any trips to the Cape and the islands, possibly until Monday when the storm moves out,” Baker said in a news briefing Friday. “Additionally, those currently visiting the Cape and islands this week should consider leaving the Cape on Saturday, or find a way to make plans to stay until Monday or Tuesday.”
Baker said the intent is to keep people off roads and bridges at the height of the storm.
Baker activated up to 1,000 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to respond to high water rescues, debris cleanup and public safety support in impacted communities.
Henri is tracking toward a likely landfall at near hurricane strength in southern New England on Sunday and could affect other coastal areas in the region. Hurricane warnings were issued Friday evening for parts of Long Island and Connecticut. A tropical storm watch was posted for New York City as well as storm surge watches for surrounding areas.
(MORE: Latest Forecast for Henri)
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont issued a state of emergency and requested a pre-landfall presidential emergency declaration from the White House.
“As this storm moves toward CT, we’re anticipating heavy rainfall and high winds, with coastal and urban flooding a significant concern,” Lamont said on Twitter. “Right now, it’s a good idea for everyone to be prepared and expect to shelter in place by Sunday afternoon through at least Monday morning.”
Lamont requested that the National Guard activate 200 members starting Saturday for preparation and response.
On Long Island, Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone told residents to be ready for power outages and storm surge. Tropical storm winds could start hitting there Saturday night.
“It’s a prudent thing to do at this point to start moving vehicles to higher ground and make preparations in time for the storm, to have that backyard furniture, anything that may be loose, to put that away or make sure that’s tied down,” Bellone said in a news conference Friday afternoon.
He also said beachgoers should be extra cautious ahead of the storm.
“We’re expecting dangerous rip currents throughout the weekend so anyone planning to swim should use extreme caution, follow the direction of lifeguards and anticipate that there may be changes,” Bellone said.
High surf and life-threatening rip currents are expected from Florida all the way up the East Coast.
Starting Saturday, state-run campgrounds, beaches and pools in Massachusetts will close until the danger has passed and any needed damage assessments are complete, a state news release said. State campgrounds in Connecticut will also close.
(MORE: Tracking Henri)
In New London, Connecticut, workers were clearing storm drains in areas prone to flooding and making other preparations ahead of the storm, which could be the first hurricane to make landfall in New England since 1991.
“Obviously we haven’t had a direct hit in quite a while and, you know, hopefully, it’ll just stay Category 1 for now but we’re watching it very closely to see the track,” Thomas Curcio, New London’s fire chief and emergency management director, told weather.com in a phone interview Friday.
Curcio said city staff was meeting with downtown business owners.
“A lot of places put out furniture now for dining so we’re making sure they’re taking all that in,” he said. “Any loose items outside, any portable heaters, chairs, anything like that should all be taken inside or stored somewhere safely or tied down.”
He added that residents should do the same as high winds and heavy rainfall could hit the area.
“Now’s the time to prepare for that,” Curcio said.
Personnel at Navy Submarine Base New London were working to prep the installation. Boat owners around the region were busy pulling their vessels from the water and people in coastal areas were told to stock up on canned goods and top off their vehicle gas tanks.
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.
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