By JOHN HOWELL Nobody is complaining, but Henri ran out of breath when he came knocking Sunday. He was a Category 1 hurricane when he targeted Block Island with a projected path that would take his eye up Narragansett Bay. As sustained winds of 70 mph
Nobody is complaining, but Henri ran out of breath when he came knocking Sunday. He was a Category 1 hurricane when he targeted Block Island with a projected path that would take his eye up Narragansett Bay.
As sustained winds of 70 mph dropped, Henri was reclassified as a tropical storm and forecasts that Warwick would be hit with sustained winds of 55 mph and gusts of 60 trended downward the closer he got. The top gust recorded at Green Airport was 47 mph at 11:50 a.m. Sunday.
That’s not to say Henri lost his punch. Trees and limbs came down. About 2,000 Warwick customers lost power, yet with 39 miles of coastline, Warwick escaped comparatively unscathed. Henri’s storm surge, forecast at 3 to 5 feet, was less than 2 feet. Even better, the surge came on an ebbing tide. Areas flooded during moon high tides during storms, such as Mill Cove and Conimicut Point, which would have been the first to be evacuated, were high and dry except for the rain. But then the rain wasn’t as bad – at least not Sunday – as forecasted.
Still, there were some surprises, although not of Henri’s doing.
Harbormaster Jeff Baris reported that about noon, a vehicle pulled up to the Oakland Beach boat ramp and left a “derelict” 18-foot powerboat. It was tied to the ramp. Baris has had this happen before, but not in broad daylight in the middle of a storm. Now the city is faced with disposing of the craft and he wants to prosecute the person, if he can find him, who dumped the boat.
While at least one person saw Henri as a means of ridding himself or herself of an unwanted craft, others saw Warwick as a place to ride out whatever tricks he might have. The most visible of visitors to Greenwich Bay was the luxury charter yacht “Imagine” that turned up Saturday to drop anchor off Buttonwoods. Baris said the boat, which is 193 feet, is an occasional visitor from Newport that will tie up at Safe Harbor Marina off Masthead Drive.
Baris talked to some of the crew who said they came to Warwick to ride out the storm.
Although more than 5,000 boats are berthed or moored in Warwick, Baris knew of no significant storm-related damage to any boat or marina. He said two sailboats about 30 feet each slipped their moorings at Prime Marina (formerly Norton’s), but they were secured before they could do damage to other vessels. He said a powerboat sank – it was re-floated Monday – however, he believes the incident was related to a hose or other malfunction, not Henri.
As he anticipated, Baris said about a dozen boats with ports of call outside Warwick sought refuge in the lee of Goddard Park that offers good protection from storms from the south.
“We’ve had worse,” Baris said of Henri referring to unnamed nor’easters that have splintered docks and washed boats ashore. “This was a good drill; we’re prepared,” he said.
Mayor Frank Picozzi rallied city directors Friday morning in preparation of Henri. He reviewed procedures for alerting residents, what equipment the city could deploy, precautionary measures and what agencies could assist.
On Tuesday, Picozzi called Henri “a good drill.” He said the city learned of a telephone routing problem and was prepared to coordinate storm responses from the Emergency Operation Center based at fire headquarters. He said the state, with the assistance of the Red Cross, opened Pilgrim High School as a shelter. Apparently it went unused, although the city dealt with one medical situation at the Pilgrim Senior Center involving a person who lost power at their home and was in need of oxygen.
Picozzi said he made a drive-by tour of the city, finding for the most part that residents adhered to the governor’s plea to stay indoors and off the roads. He didn’t see much damage or activity.
Of activity at the EOC, he said, “we kept sitting there waiting for things to happen.” They received a total of two calls.
As part of the planning, the city delayed sanitation and recycling collections by a day, which, as Picozzi observed, enabled DPW crews to cleanup on Monday and resume collections Tuesday.
Picozzi said he got home about 3 p.m. Sunday to clean up his yard.
“I wasn’t disappointed, believe me,” he said.