StormBeat: Some state beaches reopen; 6K still without power

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This story will be updated with important information on Henri’s impacts. Be sure to check back for the latest developments.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Post-storm cleanup continues after Henri hit Southern New England with damaging winds and downpours on Sunday.

Henri is officially on its way out after making its way back across the area Monday, bringing with it additional showers and thunderstorms.

Hundreds of line crews are out working to clear roadways of downed trees and other debris and restore power to the roughly 5,000 National Grid customers in Rhode Island.

At its peak, more than 100,000 National Grid customers in Rhode Island were without power, according to Gov. Dan McKee. During his weekly briefing Tuesday, he said approximately 90% of those without power have since had it restored.

National Grid New England President Terry Sobolewski said the majority of customers should have their power restored by Tuesday evening.

All state beaches were closed over the weekend, but the R.I. Department of Environmental Management reopened Scarborough North, East Matunuck, Roger Wheeler, Salty Brine and East Beach on Tuesday.

Below are periodic updates on the storm and its impacts:

2 p.m.

During his weekly media briefing, Gov. Dan McKee said of the thousands of Rhode Islanders who lost power during Henri, 90% have since had their power restored.

Meanwhile, roughly 6,000 National Grid customers remain without power. The Power Outage Database shows 30-50% of residents in Richmond and Hopkinton are still in the dark as crews work around the clock to repair downed lines and clear trees.

12 p.m.

In Exeter, a tree has fallen blocking Gardner Road, leaving the neighborhood without power for three days now and forcing vehicles to turn around.

One resident tells 12 News her neighborhood was told they would have power back on Monday, but that didn’t happen.

“It’s been a little longer than normal and that’s because three large trees went down right across the road,” Stacey Fisher said.

TUESDAY 8 a.m.

While some state beaches are opening, Charlestown Breachway is still without power so it will be closed until power is restored. Misquamicut also lost power around 8 a.m., so that beach will be closed for the time being.

11:00 p.m.

A large tree in South Kingstown that knocked out power and left neighbors trapped on Blueberry Lane was finally cleared. The headache continued for many others though with 15,000 left without power.

8:30 p.m.

Outages continue to decrease as crews work to restore power to thousands. Right now, roughly 17,000 National Grid customers remain without power.

Among those to regain power was the Ocean Mist. Owner Kevin Finnegan said the restaurant will reopen Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.

7 p.m.

Crews are working to clear a massive tree that toppled over onto Blueberry Lane in West Kingston as Henri moved through Sunday.

One resident tells 12 News they haven’t been able to leave their neighborhood because the tree is completely blocking the road.

6 p.m.

The Ocean Mist is currently running on a generator to keep the drinks and food cold until the power comes back on.

“In the past few years we bought the pub next door, pizza, coffee and surf shop, so I got to buy more generators,” Owner Kevin Finnegan said. “But we kept all the refrigeration on. That’s it, no lights.”

5:30 p.m.

National Grid’s Ted Kresse tells 12 News trees ripped down power lines across the state, and while the state spends $10 million a year on a tree trimming program, they need permission to from the property owners before cutting tree limbs away from the power lines.

“We work with [the R.I. Department of Environmental Management] so we know where the hardest-hit communities hit by [downed trees] are, and then we’ll go and get aggressive and try to get as many of them down as we can,” Kresse explained. “But when you’re in a wooded area, it does become a bit of a challenge.”

5 p.m.

About 150 trees at Burlingame State Campground came down during Tropical Storm Henri Sunday. (Courtesy: DEM)

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) said several state beaches will reopen Tuesday, including Scarborough North, Roger Wheeler, Salty Brine, East Beach and Misquamicut.

As of Monday, all state parks are open except for Beavertail, which is closed due to high surf. The DEM said state campgrounds are closed as the storm damage is assessed, however, most are expected to reopen Wednesday.

4 p.m.

Outages are continuing to decline in Rhode Island as National Grid restores power to more customers.

3 p.m.

Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca explains why so many trees came down as Henri passed through.

Red Cross tells 12 News one of the last two shelters in Rhode Island has officially closed, leaving the Wakefield shelter as the only one still operating in the wake of Henri. All shelters in Connecticut have closed, and shelters in Massachusetts were never opened, but remain on standby.

2 p.m.

Downpours are now moving across the area as crews continue to restore power to thousands in Southern New England.

1:30 p.m.

Henri is making his way back toward Southern New England, though it is no longer a major storm.

Gov. Dan McKee also held a media briefing to discuss the latest on power outages and storm cleanup.

12 p.m.

National Grid spokesperson Ted Kresse joins 12 News at Noon for a live interview via Zoom.

11:30 a.m.

Crews respond to an electrical fire on a utility pole in front of South Road Elementary School in South Kingstown. A nearby day care was evacuated as a result.

Sobolewski said power has been shut off to the area, which will take 30 to 60 minutes to restore.

11 a.m.

Gov. Dan McKee, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, South Kingstown Town Manager Theresa Murphy and Sobolewski provide an update on cleanup and restoration efforts:

10:30 a.m.

Power restoration efforts are underway. Westerly Town Manager Mark Rooney tells 12 News it’s going well there, with about 4,000 outages remaining.

8:30 a.m.

A number of roadways were closed Monday morning, mostly in southern Rhode Island.

7:30 a.m.

Exeter Town Hall will be closed Monday since 83% of the community is still without power.

MONDAY 6 a.m.

Block Island Ferry service resumed at 10 a.m. leaving the island and 10:30 a.m. heading toward it. The Steamship Authority has also resumed service to the Cape and Islands.

At T.F. Green, there are ten flights scheduled before 9:30 a.m. that have either been canceled or are delayed. Afterwards everything else is on time.

11 p.m.

Henri has been downgraded from a Tropical Storm to a Tropical Depression as it passes through Connecticut.

8:30 p.m.

5:15 p.m.

With many of the power outages in South County and temperatures in the 80s expected on Monday, the Westerly Police Department said the town’s senior center will be open as a cooling and charging center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

5 p.m.

The Tropical Storm Warning has expired for Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, but remains in effect for southern Connecticut.

4:30 p.m.

Video Now: Cleanup on Route 138 in South Kingstown

4 p.m.

Gov. Dan McKee gave another update at RIEMA headquarters, saying he surveyed the damage in South County communities and it was “what you would expect” — downed trees and power lines.

McKee also said he didn’t see a lot of people out and about, so he thanked Rhode Islanders for heeding his advice and asked that they continue to stay off the roads as crews work to clear debris and restore power.

At this time, about 74,000 National Grid customers in Rhode Island are without power, though there are only a few hundred outages in Bristol County, Mass.

When asked about the timeline for restoration, National Grid New England President Terry Sobolewski said he expects it will take a couple days to get everyone back online.

“In total, we’ve seen well over 100,000 customers lose power during this event, which is in line with our original expectations,” he said. “Early on, we will be able to bring back a meaningful number of customers as we fix and repair the larger parts of the network throughout Rhode Island. As we get into the later parts of the storm, individual outages will take more and more time, as they’re more dispersed.”

Additional crews are coming in from Massachusetts to help with the restoration efforts, according to Sobolewski.

The ban on tractor-trailers and motorcycles on state roadways has been lifted, McKee said, adding that all COVID-19 test sites except for Westerly will reopen on Monday. Any pop-up vaccine clinics planned for Sunday have been rescheduled.

3:30 p.m.

Video Now: Tree down across Shermantown Road in North Kingstown

3 p.m.

The Storm Surge Warning for this evening’s high tide has been canceled.

Power outages have been reduced slightly to 80,000 National Grid customers in Rhode Island and 8,400 in Massachusetts.

2:30 p.m.

Gov. McKee joined 12 News for a live interview as he checked on the conditions in Westerly.

2:15 p.m.

The R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority says all bridge restrictions have been lifted.

Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca says Henri will weaken as it moves across Connecticut this afternoon. Locally, we could see a few additional bands of showers as the gusty winds continue.

Video Now: Conditions in Newport

2 p.m.

More than 84,000 National Grid customers in Rhode Island are without power, along with another 8,000 in Massachusetts. (Roughly 600 of those are in Bristol County.)

1:30 p.m.

More reports of downed tree limbs, including here in Narragansett:

1 p.m.

The Mount Hope, Newport Pell and Jamestown Verrazzano bridges are back open to all but “high profile vehicles,” according to the RITBA.

Video Now: Boat washes ashore in Jamestown

12:45 p.m. Live update from Narragansett

12:30 p.m.

Reports of wind damage, including downed trees and power lines, are coming in from around Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.

Tropical storm-force wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph continue.

ReportIt! Send us storm pictures and video, as long as it’s safe to do so »

A number of roads are closed as a result of downed trees.

Video Now: North Kingstown

12:15 p.m.

After initially hitting Block Island, Henri officially made landfall in Westerly.

12 p.m. Update from New Bedford

12 p.m. Interview with RIEMA Director Marc Pappas

11:30 a.m.

Winds continue to increase, with gusts of up to 70 mph reported.

Download the 12 News and Pinpoint Weather apps to receive important storm updates on your phone or tablet.

11:15 a.m.

Providence officials announce that trash and recycling pickup will be delayed by one day.

11 a.m.

The Newport Pell, Jamestown Verrazzano, and Mount Hope Bridges are closed to traffic due to high winds.

10:45 a.m.

About 20,000 Rhode Islanders are now without power as the rain and wind intensify.

National Grid President Terry Sobolewski said they have more than 1,000 field personnel on standby to respond to power outages.

Anyone who loses power should call their utility to report the outage:

  • National Grid: 1-800-465-1212
  • Eversource: 1-800-592-2000
  • Pascoag Utility District: (401) 568-6222
  • Block Island Utility District: (401) 466-5851

10:15 a.m.

The town of Westerly Emergency Management asks residents and visitors to shelter in place and avoid being on the roadways.

10 a.m.

Gov. McKee and public safety officials held a briefing to provide updates on Henri and their message was simple.

“Stay safe, stay home, stay off the road, and stay tuned,” RIEMA Director Marc Pappas said.

“I’m asking you, Rhode Island, to stay home until this storm passes,” McKee said. “This is not the time to go out and see the waves or explore downed trees. This is the time to stay home and stay safe.”

McKee ordered a ban on state roadways for all tractor-trailers and motorcycles until further notice, excluding those carrying emergency supplies.

Officials have also been urging Rhode Islanders not to head to the shoreline to view the storm.

“In all the years I’ve been in public safety, one of the biggest challenges is dealing with sightseers who go to coastal areas in a storm like this,” R.I. State Police Col. James Manni said. “It’s extremely dangerous, not only to them, but to the fire service that are trying to save them when they get swept out into the ocean, which usually happens just about every storm.”

Manni also asked surfers to “please use your head” and not go in the water until the storm has passed.

10 a.m.

Block Island sees a bit of a reprieve as the eye of the storm passes over.

Video Now: Saunderstown

9:30 a.m.

Henri hits Block Island with winds of more than 50 mph.

9:15 a.m.

Storm conditions worsen, causing more than 5,000 homes and businesses in Rhode Island to lose electricity.

9 a.m. Henri update

The storm is barreling toward Block Island with sustained winds of 65 mph.

8:45 a.m.

Red Sox game was postponed.

8 a.m.

Both Providence and New Bedford closed their hurricane barriers in advance of the storm.

8 a.m. Henri update

7:30 a.m.

Henri downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm, though significant impacts are still expected, especially in coastal communities.

Newport DPW workers put up barricades on Ocean Road to keep drivers off the seaside roadway.

A number of flights have been canceled or delayed at T.F. Green Airport as a result of the storm.

Amtrak canceled all service from New York to Boston, adding that riders with reservations are being accommodated.

7 a.m. Henri update

The American Red Cross opened five emergency shelters for Rhode Islanders in need:

  • Cumberland McCourt Middle School
  • Middletown Gaudet Middle School
  • Providence Career and Technical Academy
  • South Kingstown High School
  • Warwick Pilgrim High School

6 a.m. Henri update

The R.I. Department of Health said all state-run COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites will be closed Sunday. Those who had appointments for testing do not need to reschedule; they can simply show up with a screenshot or printout of their confirmation notice once the sites reopen.

Anyone who was scheduled to get vaccinated at a state-run site will be contacted directly about booking a new appointment, according to the Health Department.

All state beaches and parks are also closed on Sunday, McKee said, and that may continue into Monday, depending on the damage left behind.

5 a.m. Michelle’s forecast

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