Courtesy of Karen Lin

On Sunday, New Haven officials said that Tropical Depression Henri had not resulted in any property damage or injury to city residents.

The storm was downgraded from hurricane status to a tropical storm, and then from a tropical storm to a tropical depression. Despite concerns over the potential impact of the storm, one Elm City monitor recorded just 0.7 inches of rain on Sunday afternoon, when Mayor Justin Elicker also said there have been no power outages so far across the city.

“We were very concerned about the storm coming straight toward New Haven as of 12 hours ago,” Elicker shared at around 2:30 p.m. Sunday in a press update. “Thankfully, we were spared a lot of that, because the storm moved to our east. Frankly, we’re quite lucky.”

In preparation for the storm, city officials met Saturday night at Pardee Seawall Park and canvassed the Morris Cove area, recommending that residents evacuate their homes. The city set up one major storm shelter at Hill Regional Career High School and three other evacuation centers at Benjamin Jepson Magnet School, King-Robinson Interdistrict Magnet School and Nathan Hale School.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Rick Fontana, the Elm City’s emergency operations director, both noted that preparation for the storm has been a strong collaborative effort across the city and state.

“We’ve been preparing for the last three days, getting ready for Tropical Storm Henri,” Fontana said. “We were very fortunate. We’ve been saying since it’s on the map that we’ll prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We got the best.”

On Sunday, officials also responded to concerns that calls to evacuate homes had been an overreaction to the storm.

Fontana said New Haven always errs on the side of over-preparing. The mayor also urged residents to take storm preparedness seriously, and continue to follow official guidelines even though Henri was milder than expected. The mayor stressed that areas to the west of New Haven had been hit harder by the storm and experienced flooding.

On Monday, Director of Public Health Maritza Bond ordered the city’s Lighthouse Point Park closed due to elevated bacteria levels following the storm.

“Elevated bacteria levels are common after rain events,” Bond said. “The city tests water at our beach three per week to ensure contaminant levels don’t exceed safety guidelines — as soon as we’re able to confirm the water is safe we will reopen the beach.”

Outside of New Haven, Connecticut has hardly been spared from power outages. At an early afternoon press conference on Sunday, Gov. Ned Lamont reported 24,000 outages across the state. He noted nearby states like Rhode Island — which had recorded 75,000 outages — have gotten the worst of it so far, but that the 24,000 figure “is concerning.”

Later on Sunday evening, Lamont reported 28,000 outages. As of late Monday, almost all of the outages were resolved.

On Saturday, Lamont signed a ban on I-95 travel for empty tractor trailers, motorcycles and tandem tractor trailers. That ban expired Sunday at 5 p.m., but the governor still urged Connecticut residents to stay off the roads.

“We’re still just getting started. We’ll have to track this very closely going forward. … Don’t get complacent,” Lamont said at the Sunday afternoon press conference.

DeLauro said that after Lamont requested a pre-landfall emergency declaration from President Joe Biden — which would make additional relief resources available in the state — she and the Connecticut congressional delegation sent Biden a letter in support of the request. The request has since been approved.

The congresswoman said she has been working with all the municipalities in the district she oversees to make sure that funds available via the declaration are accounted for.

“I’m asking New Haven to keep track of all the expenses that we’re incurring so that it becomes part of the emergency declaration,” DeLauro said. “What I also will be doing is reintroducing something called the Debris Act, which we’ve been working on for a long time, which would help homeowners in terms of the removal of debris.”

Fontana emphasized that “no injuries, no loss of life, no property damage” is “a win for the city,” and that New Haven officials will continue to track and respond to the threat of heavy rain.

DeLauro reminded New Haveners to stay safe until the storm ends.

“Don’t be out if you don’t have to,” she said. “Don’t ignore streets that are flooded, you never know what the depth of that water is. We will work together as we have in the past.”

The storm has caused over 135,000 power outages from New Jersey to Maine, according to the New York Times.

OWEN TUCKER-SMITH
Owen Tucker-Smith covers the Mayor's office, City Hall and local politics. He is also an associate editor at the Yale Daily News Magazine. Originally from Williamstown, MA, he is a first-year in Ezra Stiles College majoring in statistics and data science.