PORTLAND (US), Sept 15: Days of wild weather that produced torrential rain, flooding, sinkholes and
tornadoes in New England could be a prelude to something more dangerous lurking offshore —
As the Category 1 system swirled southwest of Bermuda, Maine Gov. Janet Mills on Thursday
declared a state of emergency, and the state was under its first hurricane watch in 15 years.
The water-logged region prepared for 20-foot (6-metre) waves offshore and wind gusts up to 70
mph (112 kph), along with more rain.
Eastern Maine was under the hurricane watch while the rest of the state and an area extending
south through Massachusetts were under a tropical storm warning. Powerful winds were expected
to arrive late Friday in southern New England.
Although Lee did not contribute to the recent flooding, it threatened to exacerbate conditions in a
region that is already much too wet.
The Coast Guard and emergency management agencies warned New England residents to be
prepared, and utility companies brought in reinforcements to deal with power outages. At Boothbay
Harbour Marina in Maine, the community came together to remove boats from the water to keep
them out of harm’s way.
“It’s a batten-down-the-hatches kind of day,” owner Kim Gillies said on Thursday.
Similar scenes played out elsewhere, including at Kennebunkport Marina, where crews planned to
take 100 boats out of the water, said Cathy Norton, marina manager.
Some people used the storm as an opportunity to put their boats into storage on land, bringing an
abrupt end to the summer boating season, said John Lusty, owner of York Harbor Marine in York.
Commercial lobster fisherman Steve Train said fishermen have been sinking gear in deeper water to
protect against storm damage. Fishing boats were also headed to the safety of harbours.
In Canada, residents of western Nova Scotia and southern New Brunswick were warned about the
risk of power outages and flooding this weekend. A year ago, the remnants of Hurricane Fiona
washed houses into the ocean, knocked out power to most of two provinces and swept a 72-year-
old woman into the sea.
New Brunswick Minister of Public Safety Kris Austin urged residents to assemble a 72-hour safety kit
that included batteries, water, food, medication and a radio.
In her emergency declaration, the Maine governor urged people to take the storm seriously and to
make preparations. Mills, a Democrat, also asked President Joe Biden to issue a preemptive
presidential disaster declaration to give the state access to federal resources.
Earlier in the week, the region saw 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain over six hours. Tornado
warnings were posted on Wednesday for communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and
more heavy rain opened up sinkholes and brought devastating flooding to several areas.
The National Weather Service in Boston confirmed on Thursday that damage to trees and power
lines in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut the day before was caused by four tornadoes.
Dozens of trees snapped or were uprooted by a twister in the town of Glocester, Rhode Island, and a
structure used as a bus shelter was completely blown away, the weather service said. In Lincoln,
Rhode Island, photos showed a home's roof damaged and the press box at the high school stadium
tipped into the bleachers.
The three tornadoes in Connecticut and Rhode Island were categorised as EF-1, while the one in
North Attleboro, Massachusetts, was an EF-0.
Thursday night, Lee was spinning 185 miles (300 kilometers) west of Bermuda, with maximum
sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph), according to the National Hurricane Centre.
It was travelling north on a path that could lead to landfall in Nova Scotia, possibly as a tropical
storm, forecasters said.
The system threatened to bring a mixed bag of threats. The storm surge and waves could lash the
coast, damaging structures and causing erosion; powerful wind gusts could knock down trees
weakened by a wet summer; and rain could cause flash flooding in a region where the soil is already
saturated, said Louise Fode, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Maine.
The state’s eastern coast — known as the Down East region — and the coast of Nova Scotia and New
Brunswick were expected to bear the brunt of the storm, though the track could shift before the
system arrives, Fode said.
One thing working in the region’s favour: The storm surge will not be accompanied by an
astronomical high tide, helping to lower the risk, she said.
New England has experienced its share of flooding this summer, including a storm that dumped up
to two months of rain in two days in Vermont in July, resulting in two deaths. Scientists are finding
that storms around the world are forming in a warmer atmosphere, making extreme rainfall more
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey issued a state of emergency late Tuesday following “catastrophic
flash flooding and property damage” in two counties and other communities. The torrential
downpour in a six-hour period was a “200-year event,” said Matthew Belk, a meteorologist with the
National Weather Service in Boston.
The state is monitoring the conditions of dams, the governor said, and she urged residents to stay
off the roads when ordered.
The rain created several sinkholes in Leominster, Massachusetts, including one at a car dealership
where several vehicles were swallowed up. In Providence, Rhode Island, downpours flooded a
parking lot and parts of a shopping mall. Firefighters used inflatable boats to rescue more than two
dozen people stranded in cars.
In Maine, the last time a hurricane watch was declared was in 2008, for Hurricane Kyle, but residents
are accustomed to rough weather. Lee’s projected wind, rain and surf are akin to a powerful
Nor’easter, and Mainers are familiar with those.
The Portland Sea Dogs, a minor league baseball team, moved its fan appreciation day to Friday
because of the weather forecast. But the club had no plans to cancel its game on Saturday despite
the storm. (AP)