Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Tropical Depression Henri causes mass flooding and power outages after making landfall over the weekend while Tennessee experiences extreme flooding from above average rainfall

MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2021 AS OF 9:00 AM EDT

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Tropical Depression Henri is approximately 60 miles north-northwest of New York City (NYC), moving east at 1 miler hour (mph). After Henri made landfall in southwestern Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon, it moved slowly northwest across the area before weakening from a tropical storm to tropical depression.While the depression is currently almost stationary, Henri is forecast to start moving eastward by later Monday morning and into the afternoon, with maximum sustained winds near 30 mph. The slow-moving depression is expected to produce flooding and heavy rains across portions of southern New England and northern Mid-Atlantic states (including Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island) through Monday.

Tropical Storm Henri – GeoColor: NOAA

Henri is expected to cause additional rainfall of 1 to 3 inches (with locally higher amounts possible) over southeastern New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania throughout the day. Henri’s rainfall is expected to result in limited to considerable flash, urban, and small stream flooding, as well as minor to isolated moderate river flooding. According to the New York Times, widespread flooding occurred across New Jersey and New York, causing emergency medical workers to rescue over 80 people stranded in cars in flooded streets.

Henri left over 140,000 customers from New Jersey to Maine without power at its peak on Sunday afternoon, with approximately 75 percent of the homes in Washington County, Rhode Island, without power when Henri made landfall at 12:15 pm EDT. Although most power is restored, there are still 44,538 outages in Rhode Island. In a Sunday afternoon White House briefing, President Joe Biden approved emergency declarations for Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in position in the region to help with recovery efforts. “We’re doing everything we can now to help those states prepare, respond and recover,” Biden said.

Twitter: The Weather Channel 

In addition to flooding throughout New England and the northern Mid-Atlantic caused by Tropical Depression Henri, residents of Tennessee in Nashville and the surrounding areas are advised to stay alert for flash flooding caused by record rainfall. According to the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office, 22 people are confirmed dead with roughly 20 individuals still missing after 17 inches of rain fell in the County over the course of 24 hours. Humphreys County, roughly 50 miles southwest of Nashville, is under Flood Warning from NOAA and the National Weather Service (NWS) until late morning on Monday, August 23. As of 1:00 AM CDT, Duck River in Humphreys County was almost two feet higher than normal, which can create impassable roadway conditions for residents east of Highway 13. 

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) advises that individuals in impacted areas refrain from driving, avoid flooded roads or walkways, and continue to monitor local news for updates as the situation unfolds. As of Sunday evening, 10,000 residents remained without power while search and rescue teams performed over 20 evacuations within the impacted area. The State is currently under a Level 3 – State of Emergency, which automatically deploys needed emergency service coordinators to respond to the emergency per the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP). Governor Bill Lee spoke on the emergency response capabilities in Humphreys County in a press conference on Sunday afternoon, highlighting the evolving nature of the disaster and the hope that excess stormwater will dissipate by Monday afternoon. 

Twitter: FEMA Region 2

FEMA provides guidance for individuals impacted by the inclement weather brought about by tropical storms and depressions. It’s important to remember that flash floods can develop with little to no warning. It is imperative that individuals seek higher ground and avoid walking or driving in flood waters. Individuals should heed the warnings of local authorities and remain safe as Tropical Depression Henri approaches. The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates.

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