LEOMINSTER, Mass. — Governor Maura Healey issued a state of emergency for Massachusetts on Tuesday, hours after touring Leominster and North Attleboro to survey severe damage in the region caused by “catastrophic” flash flooding on Monday.
“Today I saw firsthand the devastating impacts of severe flooding in Leominster and North Attleborough – and it was painfully clear that Massachusetts is in a state of emergency. This declaration will expedite our efforts to deliver relief to impacted communities and bolster our ability to access federal resources,” said Governor Maura Healey in a statement. “We’re grateful for the public officials who have been going above and beyond to respond to this emergency and our hearts are with the people of Massachusetts who are confronting catastrophic damage to their homes, businesses and communities.”
The flooding forced the evacuation of residents and their pets overnight, caused sinkholes and collapsed a bridge and buildings in some areas. While in Leominster, Healey said she expected to issue a formal state of emergency declaration later Tuesday. Leominster Public Schools have canceled classes on Wednesday for the second day in a row as city residents grapple with the storm’s damage and aftermath.
The emergency declaration allows for the governor to ask the federal government for resources and assistance, as well as the ability to issue recommendations, directives and orders in the name of public safety.
“Real devastation. I want to first express my sympathy to all of the residents who were so hurt by this event. Unfortunately, you know, we have seen way too many people with absolute devastation right now,” Healey told reporters in Leominster on Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier Tuesday, while in North Attleboro, the governor said she met with a woman whose house was condemned “right before my eye.”
“She had six feet of water in her basement last night in no time,” Healey said.
“My heart goes out to folks for what they’re dealing with,” said Healey, who called Monday’s flash flooding “catastrophic.”
State agencies were on the ground Tuesday, helping residents who have been impacted by the flash flooding, which caused epic damage to local homes, businesses, vehicles and tore chunks of concrete from roadways.
While visiting Leominster, Healey said, “We have been in touch with FEMA to request all assistance that we can get to help get us through this time.”
The governor lauded emergency responders in both communities, who worked throughout the night to evacuate residents and their pets.
“My heart goes out to the people who experienced tremendous hardship yesterday,” Healey said. “It was really scary, the amount of water that fell in just a short amount of time and the incredible devastation that it caused. My heart goes out to those directly impacted by this weather.”
Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella also called the weather event “catastrophic” on Tuesday, adding that emergency crews evacuated people overnight with hovercrafts and boats.
Mazzarella said the storm stalled out over the city as it delivered a “life-threatening” amount of rain and flooding between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday.
While touring Leominster on Tuesday afternoon, the governor said the flooding is “unprecedented.”
“It is certainly a situation where people need a lot of help right now,” Healey said.
He said roads were left impassable, a heavily trafficked bridge collapsed, and hundreds of residents needed to be rescued with boats.
An enormous sinkhole tore through the entire roadway on Pleasant Street in Leominster, with chunks of concrete with double yellow lines falling into the earth.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.
©2023 Cox Media Group