This time, it mattered where you were.

Depending on where you live, Tropical Storm Henri, which hit the region head-on Sunday, was a different beast. In Hopkinton, Richmond and Charlestown, east of the eye of the storm, the storm tangled wires and downed tree limbs, knocking out power to the vast majority of those towns’ residents. Westerly, which was “ground zero,” it wasn’t as bad. And in Stonington and North Stonington, very few problems were reported.

'A lot of work to be done'

In Hopkinton, residents and first responders were left almost entirely in the dark by the time the storm moved out of the region on Sunday afternoon. Heavy winds caused considerable damage to countless trees, Hopkinton Police Capt. Mark Carrier said, and numerous roads were either partially or entirely blocked by debris.

Carrier said that as of mid-morning on Monday, emergency officials were still working with town highway staff and Rhode Island Department of Transportation crews to identify and address priority needs within the community. He said there "was a lot of work to be done," and said officials were racing the clock to get things repaired before warmer weather moves in later this week.

"We are still not out of the clear," Carrier said in a phone interview Monday morning. "There are a few roads that are impassable, some trees and wires still down in places, and we are aware of sections where people may potentially be blocked in. We are trying to address all of it as quickly as we can."

Areas including portions of Skunk Hill Road and Fenner Hill Road were each blocked in in some parts, Carrier explained, and other sections of town with one way in or out such as Colonial Village Road and even driveways along Main Street were also impacted by debris. Carrier said crews were working to open as many roads as possible on Monday, with a goal of making everything at least passable again before the end of the day.

According to data from National Grid, more than 95% of the community was without electricity by Sunday night and 3,802 Hopkinton customers, 94.9% of those served in town, were still in the dark as of 9 a.m.

National Grid said in a press release that crews were working throughout the day to restore services, but that some repairs were unlikely to be completed for several days yet. By 3 p.m., National Grid data showed that 3,432 customers in town were still without power and estimated repairs times provided in some areas signaled that it could be 11 a.m. Wednesday before the power is back on.

With weather forecasts calling for potentially hot conditions and poor air quality later this week, Carrier said town leaders are prepared to open a cooling shelter for those who need it, even as the station continues to operate using a generator. All phones were working, Carrier said, and the department has been able to meet most service needs, with exceptions being some civil processing requests due to intermittent internet issues.

"We have identified some priority areas in town at this point, and we are working to get those issues addressed," Carrier said. "This could have been worse. If it hadn't slowed to a tropical storm before, or if it had developed into a category 2 hurricane, we'd be responding to a much bigger disaster right now.

'Long process' in Richmond
Scott Barber, director of public works in Richmond, predicted it will take his crews about two weeks to remove all of the debris that fell onto the side of roadways in the town as a result of the storm.
"We were fortunate that the storm didn't hit as hard as we were thinking, however we have a significant amount of damage in our town," Barber said.
The initial response, Barber said, was aimed at removing fallen trees and limbs from roadways to ensure access, if necessary, by emergency responders and crews from National Grid.
The town is working closely with the utility company to keep up to date on problem areas. "We're very encouraged with the response compared to other storms that we've had, but unfortunately it's  going to be a long process," Barber said.
On Monday morning National Grid reported 2,912 of 3,603 (80.8%) customers in the town were without power. Those figures had improved to 2,297 of 3,603 (63.8%) as of late Monday afternoon.
Barber asked residents to refrain from removing trees and limbs that have taken down power lines, saying the practice is too dangerous. Tree work on downed lines should be left to the utility company, he said. "You don't know if you are dealing with a live line," Barber said.
Similarly, Barber said, power had to be turned off to a section of town when it was discovered that an improperly installed residential generator was feeding power back into the National Grid system.
Charlestown in the dark
The aftermath of the storm left most of Charlestown without power. The Town Hall, police station and senior/community center were operating on generators as of Monday morning.
The power scenario improved to about 4,229 of 5,950 (71.1%) customers being without power in the town as of about 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
National Grid established a large staging area at Ninigret Park that will require limited public access to the park until power restoration is well on its way. The last report from National Grid indicated a three-day time frame to restore power, said Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz.  
The Charlestown Senior/Community Center canceled programs for Monday but provided its normal lunch as well as a place to cool off and recharge cellphones. Those going to the center must access it through the secondary entrance off Old Post Road.
Non-potable water is available for residents of Charlestown via a bright blue hose next to the Public Works Department entrance to Town Hall in the back parking lot.
Stankiewicz reported all state and town roads were passable for emergency access and power restoration. He also noted the town does not remove trees and limbs that are across power lines. Due to potential hazards, National Grid and their subcontractors work exclusively around the power lines, including tree and limb removal, he said.
East Beach in Charlestown was expected to open for regular hours today but Charlestown Breachway Beach will remain closed until power is restored, according to a news release from the state Department of Environmental Management.
In Westerly, a near miss
Officials in Westerly breathed a sigh of relief. While the storm struck the town directly, its energy quickly dispersed,  said Town Manager J. Mark Rooney.
"Because this is where the eye of the storm was we didn't have the sustained high winds, we had more of a calm," Rooney said.
Still, many residents lost power on Sunday. At its height, the outage count was about 10,000 customers, but as National Grid worked Sunday night and Monday, the number was down to 2,387 customers without power of a total of 14,565 customers in the town as of late Monday afternoon.
Rooney said he expected the vast majority of customers to have power restored by the end of the day Monday.
"National Grid devoted a large number of resources to fixing problems in Westerly," Rooney said.
Rooney praised the town's police officers, volunteer firefighters, public works employees and Emergency Management Director Amy Grzybowski for following the hurricane response plan laid out in the municipal emergency management manual.
"Everybody knew their role and stayed in their lane and executed every aspect of the plan," Rooney.
Volunteer firefighters from the departments that cover various sections of the town played a critical role, Rooney said, by responding to calls for downed trees that presented hazards on Sunday.
"I can't say enough good things about the volunteer firemen. They really stepped up," Rooney said.
Public Works crews were busy Monday as the cleanup and recovery continued. The work included removing standing water from Atlantic Avenue and sweeping the roadway that leads to the town's destination beaches. Those beaches will be open Wednesday following placement of lifeguards chairs, which were removed before the storm struck, and regrading the parking lots to remove ruts caused by washouts, Rooney said.
Misquamicut State Beach was also expected to open today after having been closed on Monday, but shellfish areas in Winnapaug Pond have been shut down by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
Residents will not be charged for storm-related debris taken to the transfer station, Rooney said.
Gov. Dan McKee toured the Misquamicut area Sunday to assess the damage.

Connecticut towns spared

While Henri's rain and winds caused heavy damage to trees and power lines and caused both widespread electrical outages and flooding for those east of the Pawcatuck River, many residents on the Connecticut side had a much different experience with the tropical storm.

Stonington First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough and Stonington Police Capt. Todd Olson each said that while there were certainly downed wires and fallen trees impacting the community, the town's Public Works staff and Eversource officials were able to keep up with the needs, allowing the town to return to business as usual by Monday morning.

"For our community, we are looking at this as something which provided a very good training exercise," Chesebrough said on Monday. "We were not without our own impact, but the storm came in, caused the damage it was going to cause and left quickly. We were very fortunate in that we did not see quite the impact some other towns in the region had."

At the height of the storm, the number of reported outages in town grew to over 1,200 customers and there were several roads considered to be impassable. Chesebrough said the lack of a second strike once the storm made landfall, paired with strong efforts by both Public Works staff and first responders to identify and address issues left the town in good position by Monday morning.

By 9 a.m., Eversource crews had already restored electric services to all but 9 customers in Stonington, and by noon there were only a few final storm-related repairs on private properties remaining, according to data provided by Eversource.

Olson said the town, as it would for any major storm, had opened a shelter with the assistance of the Red Cross. The shelter did initially help to serve six local residents, but was eventually closed at 3 p.m. Sunday due to a lack of need. The town also had the emergency operations center open during the storm, but were able to close that by mid-afternoon as well, he said.

"There were a few trees and some wires down, but those have since been addressed," Olson said. "Our town highway department did a great job addressing many of the issues immediately as they were coming in."

In North Stonington, First Selectmen Michael Urgo said the storm knocked down tree limbs throughout town and left numerous roads either partially or fully blocked but he said the impact was minimal and by early Monday afternoon all roads were passable and the focus was on removing any remaining debris.

Eversource reported that as of 9 a.m. Monday, crews had restored services to all but 83 customers in North Stonington and by 2:30 p.m., there were just 30 remaining customers in town without power.

While North Stonington did have its own challenges when the storm first made landfall, Urgo said highway crews and first responders were able to identify and address the problems in real time, which allowed the community to push through once the winds and rain moved out.

"We are still working on a few things, including removing some debris that had been directly reported by residents, but I am very thankful and pleased to report that the storm was just not as bad (here) as we thought it might be."

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