Hurricane Henri Could Result in 69% of Connecticut Customers Losing Power, Eversource Warns

With Hurricane Henri poised to make landfall in the Northeast on Sunday, a Connecticut energy company is warning that nearly 70 percent of its customers could lose power.

According to a Saturday report from the energy company Eversource, between half to 69 percent of Connecticut customers could face power outages due to severe weather on Sunday, and restoration efforts could take up to 21 days.

Eversource is New England's largest energy delivery company and serves more than 1.25 million people across Connecticut. In a statement from the electric company shared by Fox61's Angelo Bavaro on Twitter, Eversource said it will declare an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) starting at 6 a.m. on Sunday.

"As Henri moves closer, we've been repositioning crews, equipment and other resources accordingly so that we're ready for the significant, widespread damage that we can expect to see from this storm," said Craig Hallstrom, the company's president of regional electric operations, in a statement.

"While we have a massive contingent of line and tree crews from across the country and Canada here and more on the way, customers should be prepared for lengthy outages," he added.

🚨 BREAKING: Eversource is increasing the number of possible outages that #Henri could cause.

The power company now says between 50 and 69% of customers could lose power and restoration efforts could last 8-21 days. @FOX61News

— Angelo Bavaro FOX61 (@angelobav) August 21, 2021

The company warned that forecasts show highs winds, heavy rain and a potential storm surge along the Connecticut shoreline, which could result in thousands of trees coming down and causing power outages. The company is recommending that its customers prepare for the storm by stocking up on essential items including food, pet food, and medications.

"Now's the time to prepare with your family, and to check in on your neighbors who might need a hand," Hallstrom said Saturday. "Our crews will be out as soon as it's safe and will stay on the job until the power is back on."

Henri strengthened into a hurricane on Saturday morning as it moved up the Atlantic and inched closer toward the Northeast. According to the National Hurricane Center, Henri is now expected to make landfall at or near hurricane strength on Long Island or in southern New England on Sunday, and is currently traveling with maximum sustained winds near 75 miles per hour.

Millions of people are now under severe weather warnings as states rush to prepare for the rare tropical storm system to strike. A hurricane hasn't directly hit Long Island or New England since 1991, when Hurricane Bob killed 17 people. New York City also hasn't had a direct hit from a major storm since Superstorm Sandy made landfall in 2012, devastating communities and leaving thousands of people homeless.

On Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, leaving office in days, pleaded with residents to make last-minute preparations, warning that heavy rain, winds and storm surges from Henri could be as devastating as Sandy in some areas.

"We have short notice. We're talking about tomorrow," Cuomo said. "So if you have to move, if you have to stock up, if you have to get to higher ground, it has to be today. Please."

The storm system likely will be felt across a broad area, stretching from New York City through significant portions of New England, bringing dangerous weather conditions, flooding, and widespread power outages, forecasters warned.

Hurricane Henri Evacuation
A sign alerts drivers to a hurricane evacuation site as Hurricane Henri moves toward Long Island on August 21 in Long Beach, New York. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

"We need to take this storm very seriously," Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell told CNN Saturday morning."We're going to see power outages, we're going to see downed trees, and even after the storm has passed, the threat of falling trees and limbs is still out there."

On Friday evening, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont declared a state of emergency and told residents to prepare to "shelter in place" from Sunday afternoon through at least Monday morning.

"This storm is extremely worrisome," Michael Finkelstein, police chief and emergency management director in East Lyme, Connecticut, told the Associated Press. "We haven't been down this road in quite a while and there's no doubt that we and the rest of New England would have some real difficulties with a direct hit from a hurricane."

Rainfall across the Northeast is expected to reach between 4 to 6 inches through Monday, and the National Weather Service warned of damaging winds and severe coastal flooding in the coming days.

A hurricane warning has been issued for the South Shore of Long Island, from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point, and the North Shore, from Port Jefferson Harbor to Montauk Point. A warning was also issued from New Haven, Connecticut, to west of Westport, Massachusetts. A tropical storm warning is in effect for coastal New York and New Jersey.