A state of emergency was declared in two cities after nearly 10 inches of rain fell in six hours and caused flooding in areas of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Residents had to be rescued by boat as water flowed into their homes. More evacuations were prompted by worries about a dam whose condition was assessed as bad.
The rainfall was referred to by weather officials as a “200-year event.”
Further rain was expected on Wednesday. Forecasters predicted that throughout the weekend, Hurricane Lee would bring winds and flooding to central and coastal Maine, eastern Massachusetts, southeastern New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.
Up to 300 people had been evacuated by Tuesday morning from Leominster, which is located approximately 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Boston, according to mayor Dean Mazzarella.
That included residents of a nursing home and a high-rise apartment building. Two shelters were opened, and all schools were closed.
Mazzarella claimed that since a hurricane in 1936, the city had not experienced such extensive destruction. Most of the downtown buildings, according to him, were inundated, and some even fell. Boston’s rail operations was also hampered.
“The storm stopped over us last night. It didn’t move for close to five hours. It had dumped 11 inches (28 centimeters) of rain,” Mazzarella said at a news conference Tuesday morning. Mazzarella said Leominster has 12 hills, “and obviously, from those hills comes the water.”