Region braces for brunt of Henri

  • Northfield resident Travis Clough loads up 400 worth of groceries Saturday evening at the Greenfield Stop and Shop in preparation for Hurricane Henri. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/22/2021 2:10:00 PM
Modified: 8/22/2021 2:10:00 PM

As the 10-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene approaches, communities up and down the Connecticut River Valley are making similar preparations and bracing for Hurricane Henri’s arrival in the region Sunday afternoon.

Police, fire and public works departments across Franklin County are checking equipment, monitoring flood-prone areas and bringing on extra manpower in response to rain-heavy forecasts. Henri, which is expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reaches the region, is projected to bring three to six inches of rain and dangerous wind gusts up to 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service’s Boston branch.

Orange Fire Chief James Young said the town has not declared a state of emergency and they have their “normal preparations” in place.

“We have our normal procedures in place,” Young said. “We’re planning for the worst, hoping for the best.”

He said they’ll be watching flood-prone areas and will respond accordingly.

“We’ll see where the heaviest pockets of rain are,” Young said. “If the storm shifts and it’s worse than what it’s projected to be, we’ll make adjustments.”

Northfield Fire Chief Floyd “Skip” Dunnell III said they have also made normal storm preparations and the storm will be monitored as it unfolds.

“We’ve kind of gone over all our equipment,” Dunnell said. “The Highway Department is on standby.”

He said areas like Four Mile Brook and Gulf roads were heavily impacted by the July rainstorms and they will be checking them regularly. Dunnell urged residents to make the safe decision and stay at home.

“Heed the advisory: if you don’t need to go out, don’t go out,” Dunnell said. “Hopefully, we’ll all get through this unscathed.”

Franklin County residents filled grocery stores around the region as they began stocking up on essentials to prepare for power outages.

Northfield resident Travis Clough was packing his car with huge bags of groceries early Saturday evening. He said he was “stocking up” and wanted to load his freezer so it wouldn’t go bad if there is an extended power outage.

“$400 worth of groceries for my four boys at home,” Clough said while loading his car. “Water, juice, the basic stuff.”

He said he was getting “worse” vibes from Henri than he felt 10 years ago for Irene.

“I wish everyone the best,” Clough said. “Stay home, stay safe.”

Millers Falls resident Susan Stafford said she had just got out of work and was “stocking up.

“I had wanted to go home after work, but Mother Nature had other plans,” Stafford said. “I’ve had to run around.”

She said she hopes the storm isn’t as bad as Irene, but she is preparing for the worst.

“Better to be safe than sorry,” Stafford said. “I’m hoping we get through this with minimal damage.”

Across the region

Greenfield has undertaken extensive preparations for the storm and will be closely monitoring the situation as it develops. The police will be checking flood-prone streets such as Nash’s Mill Road every half hour and the Department of Public Works has already placed road closure signs in the area in the event of flooding, according to the Police Department’s Facebook page.

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner said the city has been preparing since Friday and the police, fire and DPW are ready to respond to emergencies.

“We are as prepared as we can be,” Wedegartner said. “These are the experts … I really do rely on them greatly because I trust them.”

Wedegartner urged residents to avoid unnecessary trips, take care of their families and to “be smart” if an emergency situation does arise. She added the city will be monitoring the storm as it progresses, but they are prepared for a worst-case scenario.

“We always have to prepare for the worst and hope that the best happens,” Wedegartner said. “That’s the mantra Greenfield certainly subscribes to.”

Police Deputy Chief William Gordon said the department always prepares for storms and Henri is no different. He added the Police Department is “fully aware” of flood-prone streets and officers will be monitoring them.

“We’re expected to see a storm like Tropical Storm Irene,” Gordon said. “We’re prepared, we’ve seen this before and we know how to properly prepare our area.”

Gordon urged residents to “respect” closed roads because water in the road is dangerous and people should avoid storm-damaged areas because more injuries put additional strain on emergency responders.

“Often people use it not expecting it to be as deep as it is,” Gordon said. “Anytime you see standing water in the roads, make sure you ‘turn around and don’t drown.’”

If residents see downed trees or wires, they should call the station’s business line: 413-773-5411. Gordon asked residents to not report power outages to the police and to only call 911 if it’s an emergency.

“We ask that people do not call 911 or our business line to report power outages,” Gordon said. “We only have the same information everyone else has.”

Residents can report and view power outage information on Eversource’s website at https://bit.ly/3z8nNDb

DPW Director Marlo Warner said chainsaws and trucks are loaded and ready to respond to emergencies. He said fallen trees and flooding are anticipated and they are preparing just as they did for Irene a decade ago.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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