BOSTON (SHNS) – Flash floods tore up roads and stranded drivers, saturated homes and forced evacuations Monday night in Leominster, leaving the city in a state of emergency.
“It’s a miracle that people made it, we haven’t had any fatalities,” Mayor Dean Mazzarella said during a televised press conference Tuesday morning. To illustrate the force of the flooding, the mayor said a full dumpster showed up on the city’s riverwalk. “We don’t even know where it came from,” Mazzarella said.
A Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency official said rain impacts were “nowhere near” the same in neighboring Fitchburg. The state also targeted emergency management staff on Tuesday to flooding impacts felt in North Attleborough. Schools are closed Tuesday in Leominster and the Frances Drake Elementary on Viscoloid Ave. was opened as a shelter.
Just before 11 p.m. Monday, Gov. Maura Healey released a statement. “There are catastrophic floods in the Leominster area and other communities across the state this evening,” the governor said. “My heart goes out to the impacted communities and public safety personnel. I’ve spoken with Mayor Mazzarella and instructed state agencies to do all that they can to assist.”
Healey said MEMA, Massachusetts State Police and Department of Fire Services were “on the ground with boat rescue and emergency response teams to ensure the safety of our residents.” Healey’s public schedule calls for her to visit New Hampshire on Tuesday for a 9 a.m. National Governors Association event in Manchester.
The National Weather Service said more soaking rain looks likely for Wednesday afternoon and evening. And given that the ground in some parts of the region just got saturated with six to nine inches of rain on Monday, NWS meteorologists said the possibility for two-plus inches of rain means “concerns are growing that our hardest hit localities could again face a flash flooding threat.”
The meteorologists also acknowledged that “all eyes are on” the Thursday-through-Monday forecast as Hurricane Lee turns north. They said the latest National Hurricane Center forecast “shifted the cone of uncertainty just a hair east so it only scrapes Cape Cod.” “However, given we are 4-5 days out, nothing is set in stone,” the NWS said. “Regardless, we will most certainly see impacts in the form of high surf and high rip current risk as soon as Wednesday when energy out ahead of Lee reaches our south/southeast facing shores.
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