Hurricane Irene, now downgraded to Tropical Storm Irene, is dumping rain and whipping up the winds in MA as it leaves downed trees, power outages, floods and more in its wake.
Thus far, public officials said the storm had knocked out power to more than four million people on the east coast and is responsible for at least 15 deaths in six states. There have not been any deaths reported in MA.
Though Irene is now a tropical storm, authorities warned that its impact was not waning. “We’re not out of the woods yet. Irene remains a large and potentially dangerous storm,” U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters today.
The eye of the storm is now passing over the Bay State with a tropical storm warning in effect this is afternoon. Winds are averaging between 35 to 45 mph and in some cases are as high as 60 to 65 mph and higher. A flood watch in effect through late tonight for MA.
500, 000 in MA are without power
- National Grid reported on its website that 337,267 customers had lost power by late afteernoon.
- NStar said 175,000 of its customers were out of power.
- Unitil Corp. said 2,500 of its customers were without power
Western, MA conditions “very serious” according to National Weather Service (NWS)
The situation in Western, MA is “very serious” according to Nicole Belk fromn the NWS, with a flash flood warning issued for some areas. Officials are worried abour dams bursting and other hazards due to flooding, acording to Boston TV news reports. A house was reportedly swept away on a river in Greenfield, MA and the Westfield River waters have risen from four feet to more than 14 feet by late afternoon–a water level not seen there since 1955, according to WCVB-TV in Boston.
There have also been some mandatory evacuations in several western MA communities, with “many more hours to go of wind and potential flooding possible”, according to Boston’s WHDH-TV. There has been a report of a rescue in hip deep water in western, MA and some evacuations in the Berkshires.
The flooding threat is not over with many rivers and tributaries in the western part of the state overflowing, according a report from WHDH-TV. The Westfield River is also a main concern for flooding in western, MA and evacuations are now underway in Westfield. Becket and Cheshire, MA. A mobile home park in Williamstown was also ordered to evacuate.
MA residents across the state are being advised not to walk or drive through flooded streets and roads since there is still a danger of getting trapped in a car, having a tree topple over or encountering a downed power line.
Widespread wind damge throughout MA
According to reports from WCVB-TV in Boston, there has been “widespread wind damage” across MA, with 60 mph wind gusts at the Blue Hills and 63 mph gusts at Boston’s Logan airport.
There have beenreports of a house being swept away in MA, a 65 foot tree uprooted from the Boston Public Gardens lying across a downtown street and trees crashing into parked cars and onto homes. Scenes of beached boats and high waves along the coast from Westport to Lynn Beach are popping up on Boston TV newscasts as the people of MA wait out Tropical Storm Irene.
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