LEOMINSTER, Mass. — Leominster, a city already pummeled and heavily damaged by flash flooding earlier this week, is “on high alert” as more rainfall is forecasted for the region later Wednesday, the mayor said.
“We’re ready for whatever the weather brings,” Mayor Dean Mazzarella told reporters during a midday press conference on Wednesday.
A Flash Flood Warning was issued for southeastern Worcester County and southwestern Norfolk County until 3:15 p.m. as Mazzarella spoke to reporters. The core of this storm remains across Connecticut and Rhode Island, where the biggest concern for flooding exists, according to the Boston 25 Weather team.
Mazzarella said emergency crews have been busy putting out sand bags and responding to assist city residents since Monday’s flooding forced the evacuation of residents and their pets overnight, caused sinkholes and collapsed a bridge and buildings in some areas.
Gov. Maura Healey on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts in response to this week’s flash flooding. 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 for public safety.
The town of North Attleboro was also heavily impacted by Monday’s catastrophic storm.
Leominster Public Schools will open on Thursday on a 2-hour delay, the mayor and schools superintendent said.
“We’re OK with opening the schools on a delay tomorrow,” Mazzarella said. “The safest place right now is for kids to be in schools. We’re opening school tomorrow on a delay.”
Mazzarella, who called Monday’s weather event “catastrophic” on Tuesday, said emergency crews evacuated people overnight with hovercrafts and boats. 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, he said.
“Everyone is safe and we’re happy for that, there are a number of rescues that were made,” he said Wednesday.
The mayor said people who sought shelter at a local school will be relocated to hotels.
Residents who were rescued from a local trailer park also have returned to their homes, he said.
An elderly high-rise at 100 Main St. has generators to operate elevators and common areas of the building, Mazzarella said.
“We had a number of city agencies bringing food, the tenants there are happy,” he said.
Sump pumps are working across the city as part of cleanup efforts. The city also plans extra trash pickups to dispose of debris in residential areas.
Restorations of some city areas “will take not days but weeks,” the mayor said.
Some streets are opening up to one lane but others, “It could be weeks before we could get those areas open. It’s just not safe enough,” Mazzarella said.
“It’s a whole bunch of pieces, it’s a multitude of things. So we’re trying our hardest to get most of the roads open at least to one lane,” he said.
City officials on Tuesday announced the creation of the Leominster Flood Relief Fund to help residents impacted by the flooding.
“We’re in crisis mode,” Mazzarella said.
The mayor said crews are working to address the major infrastructure that has been damaged by the flooding.
“Our goal is to get everybody cleaned up and get things back to normal as fast as we can,” he said.
As for the additional rainfall that is forecasted in the region, Mazzarella said crews are ready to deal with whatever happens.
“The ground is saturated, it can’t take any more. But we’re on high alert and certainly have the resources now, and the ability to call in mutual aid,” he said. “We’ll watch the weather and again, we’re preparing sandbags and we have a 24-hour operation here with the assistance of so many other agencies. We’re ready.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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