Torrential downpours sparked dangerous flash floods in central Massachusetts on Monday evening, prompting officials in one city to evacuate residents and declare a state of emergency.
Between six and nine inches of rain fell on Monday in northeastern Worcester County, where a flash flood warning was in affect until 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
A flash flood emergency was declared for Leominster, about 40 miles northwest of Boston and where forecasters bluntly told residents to quickly seek higher ground. Forecasters also said that the surrounding towns of Fitchburg, Lunenberg, Sterling and others could also experience flash flooding.
“This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation,” the Weather Service said in an advisory. “Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order.”
By Monday night, conditions in Leominster had grown so severe that the city declared a state of emergency.
“Due to flooding and potential damage to facilities, schools will be closed Tuesday,” said a bulletin on the city’s website, adding that one elementary school was being used as a shelter.
At least one neighboring town, Hubbardston, sent a fire engine to Leominster to help rescue people who were trapped.
Mayor Dean Mazzarella of Leominster toured the city by car on Monday night, showing on his Facebook page washed-out roads and damaged homes.
“All the streets are flooded, trust me,” he said in a Facebook live. “Don’t think you’re going to go out and sightsee.” At least one section of Leominster was evacuated because of a nearby reservoir, he said.
“Everything’s flooded,” Mr. Mazzarella said. “That’s the simplest thing I can tell you. It’s every part of the city, it’s basements, roofs, cars, everywhere.”
Gov. Maura Healey of Massachusetts said on social media early Tuesday that the flooding across Leominster and surrounding communities was “catastrophic” and that she had spoken with Mr. Mazzarella and state agencies who were on the ground with boat rescue and emergency response teams.
However, the forecast indicated that more rain was on the way, which could hamper clean up and possibly rescue efforts as they carry over into the morning.
Scattered showers were forecast for Tuesday morning before a frontal system was expected to dump soaking rains over parts of the region on Wednesday.