BLACKSTONE — Chief Gregory Gilmore and the Blackstone Police Department recommend that residents stay alert and prepare to take the necessary safety precautions as Tropical Storm Henri is expected to strengthen to a hurricane and impact southern New England Sunday.
According to the National Hurricane Center, as of 11:30 a.m. Friday, Tropical Storm Henri is moving west-northwest over the western Atlantic and is about 770 miles south-southwest of Nantucket.
Henri is forecast to intensify into a hurricane by Saturday with additional strengthening predicted to occur as the weekend progresses. There is the potential for damaging winds, flooding rainfall, and storm surge flooding.
There is a Hurricane Watch in effect for parts of Rhode Island, and a Storm Surge Watch for parts of the South Shore of Massachusetts. However, the exact path and strength of the storm when it gets closer to New England are still uncertain and residents are urged to stay alert and monitor the local forecast.
Town officials are receiving briefings as the situation is updated, and are staying current on storm tracks and forecasts to ensure staffing is in place to deal with any emergency that arises.
Stay informed by receiving alerts, warnings, and public safety information before, during and after emergencies.
Safety precautions residents should follow to prepare for a hurricane or tropical storm include:
- Don’t go out during a hurricane or tropical storm, if possible.
- Check flashlights and portable radios to confirm they’re working. Fully charge your cell phone, laptop and any other devices before the storm.
- Check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- If you own a car, make sure its gas tank is at least half full in the event you need to travel. Purchase a car phone charger so that you can charge your device if you lose power at your home.
- Ensure that you have an emergency kit that has basic medicine and bandages. Include disinfectants, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies that you may need in an emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Have an emergency food supply in case of a power outage. People should have supplies to sustain their families for at least 72 hours.
- Set your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings (remember to reset them back to normal once power is restored). During an outage, minimize the number of times you open the refrigerator or freezer door.
- Prepare your home by securing or bringing in outdoor objects (patio furniture, children’s toys, trash cans, etc.) that could be swept away or damaged during strong winds or flooding. Also, elevate items in your basement in case of flooding, check your sump pump, unplug sensitive electronic equipment, and park vehicles in areas that are unlikely to flood.
- MEMA recommends purchasing a generator to maintain electricity in an outage. NEVER run a generator indoors, in a garage or with the exhaust facing the home or home air intakes.
- Pack a bag with important items in case you need to evacuate. Don’t forget to include needed medications and any valuable personal belongings.
- Be a good neighbor. Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, those with medical conditions and those who may need additional assistance.
Residents are also encouraged to follow tips provided by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in the event of flooding:
- Don’t attempt to drive through large puddles or on flooded roads, which could threaten your safety. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
- If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground. Flash floods are the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.
- If floodwaters rise around your car and the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
- Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
After a storm passes through the area, residents should remain cautious. Heavy rain and strong winds can cause a multitude of problems like power outages, fallen debris and floods that often block roads and emergency vehicles, prolonging damage.
- Call 9-1-1 to report emergencies, including downed power lines and gas leaks.
- Stay away from downed utility wires. Always assume a downed power line is live.
- If your power is out, follow MEMA’s power outage safety tips. Report power outages to your utility company. Do not call 9-1-1 to report an outage or to ask about power restoration.
Additional tropical storm and hurricane safety tips offered by MEMA can be found here.
June 1 marked the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs through Nov. 30. Historically, most hurricanes and tropical storms that hit New England occur during August and September.