New York: Hurricane Henri shifts toward direct hit on Long Island
Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency for Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Broome, Chenango, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Albany, Montgomery, Schenectady, Saratoga, and contiguous counties.
The storm, which is expected to be near hurricane strength when it makes landfall, is forecast to affect coastal areas with dangerous storm surge, as well as heavy rainfall, dangerous surf conditions and widespread power outages.
Inland locations, including Westchester County and Upstate areas, could also be affected with heavy rainfall and strong winds.
Governor Cuomo is also requesting President Biden declare a pre-landfall emergency declaration. This federal declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance to New Yorkers, in the aftermath of Henri and its impacts. The declaration provides assistance for measures taken to save lives, protect property, and address public health and safety issues.
The Governor's declaration of a state of emergency ensures resources which are assigned for State use only are provided to local governments to help protect citizens and infrastructure. It also suspends regulations which would impede a rapid and effective response during an emergency or disaster.
Governor Cuomo activated 500 National Guard troops for deployment to Long Island and the Hudson Valley region to help localities with storm response efforts, including 11 high axle trucks and 14 military Humvees.
The New York State Emergency Operations Center will be activated on Sunday morning with staff from multiple State agencies coordinating emergency response activities throughout the duration of the weather event and its aftermath. The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Office of Fire Prevention and Control also activated its Fire Operations Center to coordinate requests for assistance and deployment of fire service assets via the State Fire Mobilization and Mutual Aid Plan.
Governor Cuomo also urged outdoor enthusiasts in the lower Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island regions to use caution this weekend and strongly reconsider visiting state parks and beaches with the approach of Hurricane Henri.
OFPC and State agencies, including Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Police, and Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation are preparing to deploy water rescue teams to the Hudson Valley. New York Task Force-2, a water rescue capable Urban Search and Rescue team, is also being deployed to Long Island in advance of Hurricane Henri.
The State Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with more than 3,200 supervisors and operators available statewide. To support storm response activities in critical areas, three signal bucket trucks, one vacuum truck with sewer jet, four loader-grapple attachments, and four chippers are being deployed to Long Island. 60 out-of-region traffic signal crew members will also be deployed to Long Island on Saturday.
A total of 125 generators with extended fuel capabilities are being deployed to the Mid-Hudson region and Long Island to bolster existing inventories. The need for additional resource deployments will be continually evaluated throughout the event.
Thruway Authority staff are proactively inspecting and clearing drainage systems and performing general maintenance on equipment to respond to potential flooding. Staff are prepared to respond to any flooding issues statewide with more than 664 operators and supervisors, small to medium sized excavators, plow/dump trucks, large loaders and a number of portable VMS boards, portable light towers, smaller generators, smaller pumps and equipment hauling trailers, as well as signage and other traffic control devices available for any detours or closures.
State Police swiftwater teams consist of two airboats and two rigid hull inflatable boats, along with two teams of trained troopers available on 12-hour shifts. The teams are coordinated by OFPC who will determine where assets will be staged.
The New York State Police has instructed all Troopers to remain vigilant and closely monitor conditions for any problems. Additional personnel will be deployed to affected areas as needed. All four-wheel drive vehicles and all specialty vehicles, including Utility Terrain Vehicles, are in-service.
DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas and infrastructure likely to be impacted by severe weather. All available assets, including swiftwater rescue teams and sawyers, are positioned to assist with any emergency response.
New York's utilities have approximately 5,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response, and restoration efforts across the State. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm event and will ensure utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to be impacted the most.
New York State Park Police and park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. Park visitors should check the parks website here or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.
The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corporation have secured and prepared assets and are currently monitoring forecasts and conditions. The Power Authority is ready to support power restoration activities if needed.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is taking all necessary precautions to protect its transportation network and deliver safe service. MTA agencies are working closely together, coordinating with local partners to develop precautionary plans should service be impacted.
The Port Authority's Office of Emergency Management is monitoring weather conditions throughout today and into Sunday, when heavy rain and wind is anticipated in the Port District.
Passengers using Port Authority airports are encouraged to contact carriers and airlines in advance directly for current information on any potential delays and cancelations. Drivers using agency bridges and tunnels are asked to seek updated information on the Port Authority website and via travel alerts in the event of reduced speed limits on bridges due to high winds or potential flooding. For the latest information about Port Authority facilities, please check social media, sign up for PA alerts, or download one of the PA mobile apps.
In preparation for potential impacts from Tropical Storm Henri, the New York State Canal Corporation will preemptively lift its movable dams along the Erie Canal and Mohawk River between Lock E-8 in Rotterdam and Lock E-15 in Fort Plain. The initial lowering of water levels throughout this area will begin overnight with the lifting of the movable dams commencing at 7:00 am Sunday, August 22, 2021.
By lifting the movable dams out of the water, water levels within the Erie Canal and Mohawk River will be significantly reduced to near winter levels, which could result in grounding of any vessels left unattended. Residents and mariners are encouraged to take appropriate actions regarding any vessels, docks, or other seasonal structures in these areas which may be impacted or damaged by the significantly reduced water levels.
Lifting the movable dams out of the water is a necessary action to mitigate the risk of flooding in this area.
For mariners seeking safe harbor, the Waterford Flight, Locks E-2 - E-6, will be available for any vessels arriving by 5:00 pm this afternoon.
In addition, the Canal Corporation is taking preemptive measures to create additional storage capacity in both Hinckley and Delta Reservoirs in anticipation of precipitation from Tropical Storm Henri. The release of water will not result in any flooding in areas east of the reservoirs. Excess flows from precipitation earlier in the week, that impacted the areas of Utica and Rome, has had the opportunity to recede. ■