President Biden approves emergency declaration in Mass. for Hurricane Lee

By Saturday morning Lee was a post-tropical storm, bringing rain, winds and punishing surf conditions to the Massachusetts coast

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President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Massachusetts Saturday in response to the impacts of Hurricane Lee.

This comes after Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey declared a state of emergency on Friday, activating the National Guard ahead of the arrival of the storm. By Saturday morning Lee was a post-tropical storm, bringing rain, winds and punishing surf conditions to the coast. Beach erosion and rip currents remain some of the biggest concerns from this storm. By Saturday afternoon, the governor had lifted the state of emergency.

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The president's approval means the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be able to help coordinate any disaster recovery efforts brought on by the storm. He gave the same approval earlier this week for Maine, which was expected to see stronger impacts.

Massachusetts isn't expected to take a direct hit from the storm, but there will be coastal impacts.

Hurricane Lee is mostly expected to impact coastal areas of Massachusetts, with strong winds causing power outages and flooding and high surf anticipated as well.

Cape Cod and the Islands have the greatest risk of seeing tropical storm force winds. The strongest winds will impact the Cape and Islands, with 65 gusts recorded as of Saturday morning. These gusty winds could cause power outages. At one point Saturday morning the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) was reporting around 3,000 people without power in the state, mostly along the Cape and coast, though by 10 a.m. that number was down to just around 400.

The most significant coastal flooding is expected to impact the bay side of Cape Cod and Nantucket around the early morning high tide on Saturday.

Preparation and response capabilities

In anticipation of the storm, local, county, and state officials participated in daily coordination calls with the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center. MEMA also initiated standard pre-impact planning with emergency support function partners that offer capabilities including search and rescue, mass care, debris management, communications, and damage assessment in the event they are needed. 

On Saturday morning the State Emergency Operations Center in Framingham, along with MEMA East Regional Emergency Operations Centers in Franklin and Tewksbury, was activated. 

Transportation

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is underscoring that the public should plan ahead if traveling during the severe weather. Although MassDOT does not anticipate any restrictions on passenger vehicles during this storm, drivers are reminded to take care and never drive through standing water. MassDOT is ready to respond to any impacts the storm may have on transportation infrastructure.  

Truck drivers should take special care if they must travel. if there are strong winds, upwards of 75 mph, MassDOT may restrict some truck travel for brief periods on specific bridge structures in the path of the storm should sustained winds and gusts create dangerous conditions.   

MassDOT Highway crews have been inspecting catch basins, drainage inlets and cross pipes and removing any obstructions from them over the last few days. Heavy equipment, pumps, and generators are fueled up and ready to be deployed if needed. Staff will be patrolling during the storm and emergency response crews are on standby. 

The Department of Conservation and Recreation is preparing for potential flooding on roadways or parkways within its jurisdiction and may close affected areas as needed. Like MassDOT, DCR has teams standing by to address any fallen trees that require attention.  

The MBTA is closely monitoring the weather forecast and will provide updates as needed. Passengers should plan accordingly and allow extra travel time if they are traveling during periods of inclement weather. Ferry service will be adjusted on Friday, September 15, canceled on Saturday, September 16, and operate normally on Sunday, September 16. Riders are encouraged to sign up for and check T-Alerts for the latest service information. 

Massport advises Boston Logan passengers to reach out to their airlines on the status of their flight. Information related to flight status can be found here.    

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