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Northeast Expects Tropical Storm Henri To Be One Of The Worst Storms In 30 Years

SUSAN DAVIS, HOST:

Henri has weakened slightly to a tropical storm. It's still expected to be one of the worst storms New England has seen in about 30 years when it makes landfall later today. Parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island have mandatory evacuations. And over to the west in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for parts of the state, including New York City. That's where NPR's Jasmine Garsd is, and she joins us now. Good morning, Jasmine.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Good morning.

DAVIS: So what is the extent of the damage so far?

GARSD: Well, the brunt of the storm hasn't hit yet, but the preview started Saturday night with intense rainfall and flooding. Here in New York City, we saw extremely heavy rain and flash flooding. And as we move forward, the concern is also that high tides could lead to worse surges as the storm hits. Parts of southern New England are already getting tropical storm conditions. And folks who are traveling should expect delays and cancellations. And in New York, several parts of the commuter system have been suspended.

And, you know, this storm came on pretty fast. As of last night, various city-sponsored concerts were still happening as audiences got absolutely drenched and waded through some flooding to get back home.

DAVIS: What's expected as Henri moves in closer?

GARSD: Tens of millions in the region are under tropical storm warning. There's been mandatory evacuations in coastal areas across the eastern seaboard. Connecticut and Rhode Island have asked folks to shelter in place. Residents are also being told to expect power outages as the storm hits, so people sheltering in place should be prepared for that. And the National Guard in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island has been activated to help with any rescues and support.

DAVIS: You are in New York right now. How is the city and the state preparing for it all?

GARSD: Since yesterday, New Yorkers have been bombarded with warnings. There's been comparisons to Hurricane Sandy in 2012, except, as Governor Andrew Cuomo has noted, residents had less time to prepare. Cuomo said he's deploying hundreds of members of the state's National Guard and helping, placing water rescue teams on standby. He said the state has also deployed hundreds of state police officers on duty in affected areas and FEMA teams.

DAVIS: This comes at an incredibly unusual time for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He has already resigned amidst a sexual harassment scandal. He's leaving office on Monday. Has any of that interfered with his response?

GARSD: Yes. It comes at a very tumultuous time. Governor Cuomo said in a press conference yesterday, I'm still governor. I am still in charge. There's been this two-week transition period between him and incoming Governor Kathy Hochul, which has been criticized as being just too long. Cuomo has said he's served for a very long time, and you don't just flip a switch and turn to another administration.

DAVIS: And we should also note that a separate system, Tropical Storm Fred, has battered part of the South as well.

GARSD: Yes, that's right. For the last few days, North Carolina, Tennessee and some parts of Florida have had catastrophic flooding because of Fred, which has also been a deadly storm with an increasing fatality count.

DAVIS: NPR's Jasmine Garsd - Jasmine, thanks.

GARSD: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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