Update 2:45 p.m. New York City, Nassau and Suffolk counties, Westchester, the Hudson Valley and a dozen other New York counties are under a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Henri’s expected landfall on Long Island Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday.
In a press briefing Saturday, Cuomo — who is officially resigning as governor Monday at midnight after investigators corroborated allegations from 11 women that he sexually harassed them — said he has called up 500 National Guard troops to move to affected areas Sunday.
The hurricane is projected to make landfall on Long Island at 7 a.m. Sunday, with the eye of the storm over Long Island at 11 a.m., Cuomo said. The storm is expected to last 26 hours before moving out Monday afternoon. Henri would be the first hurricane to directly hit Long Island since Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
The entire region will be affected, Cuomo said. “Just because you’re not on Long Island, don’t say, ‘well then we’re fine.’ It’s Long Island, flooding in New York City, (the) storm moves north, affecting Westchester, Hudson Valley, (and the) capital district right up the line,” he said.
Long Island can expect between 8 to 10 inches of rain, as well as Westchester, Hudson Valley and the Catskills, Cuomo said.
With the heavy rainfall that already fell this summer, Cuomo said a concern was that trees would topple from saturated soil and flash flooding could occur.
“We know what happens when we get that amount of rain, especially in a situation like this where the ground is already saturated, creeks turn into raging rivers,” Cuomo said, recalling that “we saw entire towns carried away” during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
He called upon residents to heed voluntary evacuation orders for Fire Island and to prepare supplies and move to higher ground despite the abrupt hurricane warning.
“We have short notice. We’re talking about tomorrow. So, if you have to move, if you have to stock up, if you have to get to higher ground, it has to be today, please,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said he asked President Joe Biden to declare “a pre-landfall emergency declaration” which will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide emergency protective measures.
Regional transit schedules were affected by storm prep, with the Long Island Rail Road suspending service on the Montauk Branch east of Patchogue and service to/from Greenport east of Ronkonkoma. The LIRR said service will remain suspended “until we have checked our infrastructure and determined it is safe to do so.”
Metro North announced that service on the Wassaic and New Haven lines and Danbury/Waterbury/New Canaan branches are suspended Sunday, and all other service limited.
Westchester County also closed beaches, pools and the Rye Playland amusement park for Sunday, NY1 reported.
Cuomo’s press briefing — his first since he announced his plan to resign on August 10th, effective August 30th — came just days before he vacates the Executive Mansion Monday at 11:59 p.m. and hands over the office to Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
He promised to be focused on managing the state’s response to the hurricane.
“I will be 100% available to people in the state of New York every minute of the day, which I have been for my entire tenure as governor,” he said, and added, “I am Governor today, and I am in charge.”
Update 1:20 p.m.: The city Department of Transportation is suspending outdoor dining for Sunday because of Henri, which is expected to bring wind gusts of up to 45 mph in New York City.
In a tweet posted just after 1 p.m., the DOT–which is charged with the Open Restaurants initiative–ordered all eateries to secure all “outdoor furniture/barriers & take down umbrellas/tents.” Tropical Storm Isaias was the last storm to cause widespread damage across the city, with thousands of trees having to be taken down as a result.
While the city prepares for the storm to make landfall on Sunday, it is proceeding with Saturday’s Homecoming Concert on the Great Lawn in Central Park. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that the “show will go on!”
He added if there “are any changes in the forecast we will update New Yorkers immediately.”
Update 12:45 p.m.: Fire Island is under a voluntary evacuation and Long Island Rail Road added one extra westbound train from Montauk as officials scramble to prepare for Hurricane Henri Saturday.
The hurricane was projected to make landfall on Long Island or southern New England sometime Saturday night into Sunday morning.
A large swath of eastern Long Island was under hurricane warning, from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point as well as on the north shore from Port Jefferson Harbor to Montauk Point.
In a press conference in Bay Shore Saturday by the Fire Island ferry terminal, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone warned vacationers and residents of Fire Island that ferry service – the only way on and off most of the popular tourist destination – will cease Sunday during the height of the storm. Bellone said power outages are expected as he asked people to voluntarily evacuate early.
“We are urging residents and visitors to Fire Island to come off the island, to leave Fire Island today for their own safety, and so that emergency management officials and personnel and Storm Recovery personnel can do the work that they will need to do following this storm,” Bellone said.
“There will be no ferry service tomorrow. And we cannot say when ferry service will be restored at this point, because we do not know what kind of damage that this storm may do to the infrastructure,” Bellone added. “So it is important for residents and visitors to Fire Island National Seashore to understand and to all the communities that if they do not leave the island today they will be stuck on the island, and we do not know what kinds of conditions they may be facing, but they could be difficult, they could be dangerous.”
The Suffolk County bus service will not operate Sunday, and campgrounds closed, Bellone added.
The LIRR added one more train out of Montauk Saturday afternoon to help move more people out of the hurricane’s path through eastern Long Island, and the agency anticipates possible service changes Sunday.
The potential storm surge will likely bring flooding to the Long Island coastal communities, officials said.
“Just like in (Superstorm) Sandy, we’ve got a full moon,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Saturday. “It can make the tides higher. So you’ve got the high tides, the full moon, the wind, and we know rip currents. All of that spells flooding for our coasts.”
Curran urged residents to gather supplies and prepare a go kit if needed: “It’s good to have a go kit ready with water and medicine and food and anything that you may need if you have to grab it and go. Have a plan for your pets,” she said.
Both Nassau and Suffolk counties plan to open shelters today for residents.
11:25 a.m. The storm system headed towards New York was officially designated a hurricane by the National Hurricane Center Saturday morning, with landfall expected on Long Island or in southern New England late Saturday or early Sunday.
Hurricane Henri’s beeline for the region has caused event cancellations and beach closures, while officials urged residents to prepare for flooding and possible power outages caused by the hurricane-force winds of up to 75 mph.
The National Hurricane Center said “A dangerous storm surge, hurricane conditions, and flooding rainfall expected in portions of the Northeast United States beginning late tonight or early Sunday.”
The hurricane warning is now in effect for a large swath of eastern Long Island to parts of New England:
- South shore of Long Island from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point
- North shore of Long Island from Port Jefferson Harbor to Montauk Point
- New Haven Connecticut to west of Westport Massachusetts
- Block Island
A storm surge warning is in effect from Flushing eastward to Montauk, while a storm surge watch is in effect from East Rockaway Inlet to Mastic in Suffolk County.
Parts of the region may experience tropical storm conditions including coastal New York (which includes New York City) and New Jersey.
Con Edison said in a statement Saturday an additional 1,500 mutual aid workers will supplement the utility’s own staffing to restore any potential power outages that could result from the high winds knocking tree limbs into power lines.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a phone interview Saturday there were projected power outages on Long Island that could last for 7-10 days, which she called “unacceptable” and called on PSEG Long Island to make better preparations.
Flooding remains a serious concern. Curran noted there will be a full moon Sunday and said Nassau County could see storm surges of 3-4 feet. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told WSHU, “We know based on experience that that can cause a significant amount of damage, particularly of course in the low lying areas around the county. We’re keeping an eye particularly on the high tide cycle on Sunday morning.”
Con Edison said in their statement “the pelting rain and tides could also bring flooding” that could affect equipment, and priorities for power restoration will be critical facilities like mass transit, hospitals, and police and fire stations.
Still, Con Ed warned, “depending on the severity of the storm, restoration could take multiple days.”
The city Department of Buildings has asked property owners, contractors and crane operators to secure their sites and equipment against the high winds and rainfall.