State of emergency declared due to heavy rains, flooding

By Chris Shores

Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts yesterday in response to a severe rain storm that hit the state Monday and will continue today.

“As you know the National Weather service is forecasting up to seven inches of rain in this storm over the next couple of days,” said Patrick in a press conference alongside the Massachusetts Emergency Management Act (MEMA). “I am declaring a statewide state of emergency… MEMA will be and has been the lead agency.”

WWLP.com in Springfield said that rain amounts will reach three to six inches in the area. Some areas may receive seven inches of rain.

Patrick said the main reason for the state of emergency is because of concerns of flooding of rivers across the state.

“They are now forecasting that all rivers in Massachusetts are now likely to reach flood stage [with] moderate to major flooding… most significant in Central and Eastern Massachusetts,” he said. “The ground is saturated following the two storms we’ve had over the past couple of weeks and it’s very difficult for the water to be absorbed. They are forecasting that flood levels may rise quickly.”

One of the rivers Patrick highlighted in his press conference was the Connecticut River, which runs through the Hampshire County near towns such as Northampton. WWLP.com wrote that “rain and run-off, combined with continued snowmelt to our north will likely send the Connecticut over its banks again here in Western Massachusetts by Wednesday.”

In addition to MEMA, the governor will also use the National Guard to assist with the storm.

“They will have 700 troops deployed by daybreak tomorrow with the capacity to deploy up to a 1,000 should we need them as the storm situation evolves,” he said. “The Guard will be strategically prepositioned for any area that needs assistance with evacuations, sandbagging and safety patrols.”

Patrick urged caution to those close to flood zones, saying that they should at least prepare for the possibility of an evacuation.

“We are not calling for people to evacuate now,” he said. “We are asking if you live in a flood zone, to prepare.”

The governor told everyone to take advantage of public transportation. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) subway system, commonly referred to as “The T” is functioning and may add more times to routes if needed.

“If you must drive, please take your time and use extreme caution,” said Patrick.

He added that high river levels may cause some athletes or daring individuals to go into the river for kayaking, swimming and other water sports. He strongly urged against this, saying, “please do not succumb to the temptation.”

A 211 phone number will be staffed 24 hours for non-emergency inquiries about the storm. Information is also available on www.fema.gov.

Chris Shores can be reached at [email protected]