© Reuters. Signs on the highway warn commuters not to travel on Sunday as Hurricane Henri approaches in Long Island, New York, U.S., August 21, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
By Pablo Garibian and Nick Zieminski NEW YORK (Reuters) -A somewhat subdued Tropical Storm Henri spun over Rhode Island on Sunday, but not before a drenching rainstorm submerged a star-studded concert meant to mark New York City’s emergence from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. A light rain that turned into a downpour on Saturday night sent thousands of music fans at the free “Homecoming Concert” in Manhattan’s Central Park streaming for the exits in the middle of a performance by Barry Manilow, who continued to sing for a while even after his audio was cut off. Performers who did not get to go on because of the concert’s abrupt ending included Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and the Killers. Thousands of concertgoers, some still lining up to get in as the show was emptying out, had navigated through an airport-style security checkpoint where they also had to show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus to gain entrance. The concert had been promoted for weeks by Mayor Bill de Blasio to show the city’s resilience against the pandemic. Its unplanned early ending as Henri, then still a low-level hurricane, churned up the Eastern Seaboard, left CNN, which was broadcasting it live, with air time to fill, which it did in part by having Manilow call into the network and sing. The storm made landfall near Westerly, Rhode Island, at about 12:15 p.m. EDT (1615 GMT) on Sunday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Its estimated maximum sustained winds of about 60 mph (95 kph) were 14 mph (22 kph) short of hurricane strength. But its rain bands stretched from eastern Pennsylvania to southern New Hampshire, covering northern New Jersey, New York’s metropolitan area and Hudson (NYSE:) River Valley, and southern New England. Storm surge warnings were still in place for most of Long Island and southern New England with predicted coastal surge ranging from 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 m) in many areas. “Certainly, we have a concern about the surge,” Newport, Rhode Island, Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano told MSNBC, noting that it could be exacerbated by the incoming high tide and full moon on Sunday night. The NHC’s tropical storm warning covered more than 42 million people. As Henri’s winds weakened, most of the concern shifted to the potential for flooding, with the NHC predicting rainfall amounts of 3-6 inches (7.5-15 cm) in much of the affected region as the storm’s movement was expected to slow over land. “Heavy rainfall from Henri may result in considerable flash, urban, and small stream flooding, along with the potential for widespread minor to isolated moderate river flooding,” the NHC said. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was particularly worried about flooding in the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains north of New York City.
“We already have saturated ground, so the absorption capacity of the ground is limited, and that’s what makes this level of rainfall especially problematic,” Cuomo said at a briefing. President Joe Biden on Sunday authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in New York if they are needed. (Writing and additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Diane Craft and Susan Fenton)