Henri Isn’t Worrying Massachusetts and Rhode Island Residents

Residents were skeptical that Henri would be as damaging as Hurricanes Gloria and Bob, which struck the region in 1985 and 1991.,

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‘We’re New Englanders, we can handle it’: Storm prep is a mixed bag.

Boarding up Salty's Clam Shack in Westerly, R.I., on Saturday.
Boarding up Salty’s Clam Shack in Westerly, R.I., on Saturday.Credit…Cj Gunther/EPA, via Shutterstock

By Ellen Barry and Colleen Cronin

  • Aug. 21, 2021Updated 7:35 p.m. ET

BOSTON — When it looked like Hurricane Henri would directly hit New England, customers converged on Adler’s Design Center & Hardware in Providence, R.I., where they bought all of the store’s kerosene lamps before moving on to flashlights and candles, said Leanne Dolloff, a cashier.

Many longtime residents of the region, however, were skeptical that the storm would be too disruptive.

“We’re New Englanders, we can handle it,” said Ms. Dolloff, 40, who remembers waking up to a floating bed in her Lowell, Mass., home when Hurricane Gloria — the last hurricane to make landfall on Long Island — swept through in 1985.

Officials were preparing in case Henri causes as much damage as Gloria or Hurricane Bob, which tore its way up the East Coast in 1991. More than a dozen people died in each storm.

Gloria was a Category 1 storm when it hit Long Island, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate, bringing down thousands of trees and leaving 1.5 million homes without power. Bob made landfall as a Category 2 storm, and millions were affected by downed trees, power outages and flooding.

Bill Shore, a longtime resident of Newport, R.I., remembers how terrifying it was to experience Bob. He had driven to New Jersey to secure a boat and then frantically drove back to save his house.

“Limbs were coming down,” he said, “but I made it back without getting clobbered.”

Mr. Shore, however, said he was not too worried about Henri. He has a generator at home and planned to keep his 30-foot sailboat in the water, although he was thinking about renting a chain saw to tidy up after the storm.

In Boston’s Seaport District, which was built upon the mud flats and salt marshes along Boston Harbor in the decades after Bob, bars and restaurants like Harpoon, Legal Sea Foods and Yankee Lobster had not made plans to close for Henri. Farther east, in the Cape Cod community of Buzzards Bay, boats were being removed from the marina but little was being done to secure gas grills or deck chairs.

Henri was expected to flood many areas already inundated from Fred.

Officials in Boston said they were building barriers around the city’s most vulnerable subway station and would suspend some transit services on Sunday. Amtrak announced that service between New York and Boston and between New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., would be canceled on Sunday.

But passengers waiting to board the ferry from Boston to Provincetown on Friday night were cautiously optimistic that their plans would not be foiled.

Gary Livolsi said he had been through a lot of nor’easters and was content simply making sure the umbrellas and cushions were not left on his patio.

“I’m hoping they’re overestimating it, as they often do,” said Susan Mahoney, who was off to spend the weekend in Provincetown but was fully prepared to stay longer if necessary. “I brought extra wine.”

Catherine McGloin and Beth Treffeisen contributed reporting.

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