Hurricane Henri: US East Coast warned of significant damageon August 22, 2021 at 1:00 am

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New York state declares a state of emergency as officials warn of flooding and power outages.

A screen shows information about severe weather approaching the area as New York police officers try to move people out of the field after cancelling the "We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert" at Central Park

image sourceReuters

Residents on the US East Coast have been urged to prepare for one of the most powerful storms in years.

Hurricane Henri, which has strengthened from a tropical storm, is expected to hit New York’s Long Island and southern parts of New England on Sunday.

A state of emergency has been declared in parts of New York state as winds of up to 75mph (120km/h) and as much as six inches (15cm) of rain are expected.

Hurricanes are rare for this part of the US coastline.

New England was last hit in 1991, when Hurricane Bob caused the deaths of 17 people.

“We need to take this storm very seriously. Even if it doesn’t make landfall as a hurricane, the tropical force winds and the storm surge can cause significant damage,” Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell told CNN.

“We’re going to see power outages, we’re going to see downed trees, and even after the storm has passed, the threat of falling trees and limbs is still out there.”

On Saturday evening, a concert taking place in New York City’s Central Park was abruptly stopped “due to approaching severe weather”, police said.

Some 60,000 people were thought to be attending the “homecoming” concert – a celebration of the city’s return to hosting large events following the restrictions caused by the pandemic.

A line-up of artists included Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Paul Simon and Barry Manilow, whose performance was cut short as concert-goers were told to make their way to the nearest exits.

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About six million people living near the coast in parts of Long Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts have been issued with hurricane warnings.

More than 36 million people in large parts of southern New England as well as New York and New Jersey have received tropical storm warnings.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for Long Island and New York City as well as other parts of the state, pleading with residents: “Please take this storm seriously.”

Massachusetts will close its parks and beaches from Saturday to Monday, the office of Governor Charlie Baker said on Friday.

With about 300,000 people predicted to lose electricity, officials urged “all residents… to begin storm preparations today, and to pay close attention to local weather”.

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