Storm Henri batters north-eastern US with torrential rain and flooding

23 August 2021, 12:15

Storm Henri brought torrential rain and flooding to large parts of the US.
Storm Henri brought torrential rain and flooding to large parts of the US. Picture: alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

Tropical Storm Henri made landfall on the coast of Rhode Island on Sunday, drenching the north-eastern US with strong winds and torrential rain.

The storm, which had previously been classed as a hurricane, was downgraded before reaching New England, but the US National Hurricane Centre warned that the storm is slow-moving and heavy rain would continue across the region for days to come.

The storm battered New England and Connecticut, as well as Pennsylvania and New York.

On Sunday, Storm Henri had winds of about 60 mph and gusts of up to 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Centre. This dropped to 30 mph as the storm moved inland towards New York.

Over the weekend, the storm led to power outages for over 140,000 homes and closed bridges, swamped roads and left some people stranded in their vehicles.

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US president Joe Biden declared a disaster in the worst affected states.
US president Joe Biden declared a disaster in the worst affected states. Picture: alamy

The storm impacted large parts of the US, with heavy rain causing flooding in New Jersey, despite being downgraded to a tropical storm. 200 people in the area fled as their homes became swamped in floodwater following as much as 20 cm of rain.

In Connecticut, 250 care home residents had to be transferred to other facilities as coastal areas felt the full brunt of the storm.

The US National Weather Service recorded potentially the wettest hour ever in Central Park, with 1.94 inches of torrential rainfall between 10pm and 11pm on Saturday.

Read more: At least 22 dead and many missing as record-breaking floods hit Tennessee

But coastal communities from the Hamptons on Long Island to Cape Cod in Massachusetts were spared the worst of the damage. On Monday, the storm turned eastward and began moving out toward the Atlantic Ocean. It will pass back through New England and into the Atlantic over the next couple of days according to predictions from the National Hurricane Centre.

New England officials expressed fears that just a few more inches could cause disaster after a record-breakingly wet summer.

"The ground is so saturated that it can flood with just another inch of rain," Connecticut governor Ned Lamont warned late on Sunday.

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President Joe Biden has declared disasters in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, and pledged to provide federal aid to affected residents. The US president added: "We’re doing everything we can now to help those states prepare, respond and recover." 

This comes shortly after severe flooding from an unrelated storm led to the deaths of at least 22 people in Tennessee, including young children and elderly people. Many more are still missing.