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Mass. first responders perform water rescues, evacuations as flash flooding hits state

Officials in Leominster said residents near a dam should “immediately evacuate” as a precaution


Firefighters use boats and a military truck to evacuate residents and pets as floodwaters rise in the Meadowbrook Acres neighborhood of Leominster, Mass.

Rick Cinclair/Worcester Telegram & Gazette via AP

Associated Press

LEOMINSTER, Mass. — Heavy rainfall has flooded parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with one city declaring a state of emergency as water poured into homes, creating moats around their foundations, and stranded drivers.

Mayor Dean Mazzarella in Leominster, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Boston, urged people not to venture outside as roads flooded Monday night, but some residents were evacuated as water came into their basements. All schools were closed Tuesday and two shelters were set up.

“The storm stopped over us last night. It didn’t move for close to five hours. It had dumped 11 inches (27.9 centimeters) of rain,” Mazzarella said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

On Monday night, in a recording posted online, he had urged people, “Find a high spot somewhere. Find a high spot and stay there until this is over.”

He said if there were any injuries they were minor.

Early Tuesday, the city said people living in areas near a brook and the North Nashua River in Leominster should “immediately evacuate” as a precaution, “due to a potential issue at the Barrett Park Pond Dam.”

“This particular dam is one that we’re actually about to replace, and it is very sensitive. It is water-saturated and we worry about that downstream,” Mazzarella said at the news conference.

He said there were at least several homes where “the water washed out around them” and the foundations could be seen.

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey said earlier that emergency boat rescue and response teams were in the city.

“My heart goes out to residents and public safety officials in Leominster and other communities experiencing catastrophic flooding tonight,” she posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Other communities also experienced flooding. In North Attleborough, Massachusetts, about 55 miles south of Leominster, the town said in a statement that crews worked to clear water from roads Monday night and at least 12 homes were flooded.

Little rain was expected Tuesday, but storms are expected to hit the area on Wednesday afternoon and evening, and some could produce heavy rain, the National Weather Service said.

New England has experienced its share of flooding this summer, including a storm that dumped up to two months of rain in two days in Vermont, resulting in two deaths.