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Connecticut Prepares For Tropical Storm Henri

SUSAN DAVIS, HOST:

Henri has weakened slightly to a tropical storm. But it still poses a threat, in parts, to three Northeastern states when it makes landfall later today. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for parts of the state, including New York City. Henri also has Connecticut under a tropical storm warning. The National Hurricane Center says residents there can expect strong, gusty winds and flooding. First responders in one Connecticut shoreline town are worried their residents could be stranded.

That's where Connecticut Public Radio's Frankie Graziano is, in Old Saybrook. And he joins us now. Hi, Frankie.

FRANKIE GRAZIANO, BYLINE: Hi, Susan. Good morning from Connecticut.

DAVIS: So I understand you spoke to some people at the local fire department there. What are they telling you about the storm?

GRAZIANO: I did. I walked up and I spoke to past chief, J.T. Dunn, who works with the fire department and handles PR. What they've basically been doing recently is walking up to people with these big flyers, knocking on doors with local police officers as well, just to tell people to get out, especially in the low-lying areas because what they're really worried about is people getting kind of caught behind the storm. And let's say they're home and they're trying to get out in a couple of days, there being roads that are impassable and flooded...

DAVIS: Right.

GRAZIANO: ...So flooding a real big concern here locally.

DAVIS: We see this often in big storms, where people are told to evacuate, and they choose not to. Are the local townspeople there listening?

GRAZIANO: Well, it seems like - we're trying to find out where the worst of the storm is. And we did go to one of those low-lying areas. There's this is a place called Chalker Beach down here. And it seemed that that was pretty desolate. I saw a couple of houses actually boarded up down there. And so it looked like that area, where you especially want people to be honest (ph), was evacuated.

I would say the rest of the town, you see a lot of people driving on the roads, which are becoming dangerous. I did see some debris as we were driving. And now of course, we're at the marina watching the water to see if there's going to be any kind of storm surge. And there's a lot of onlookers over here still - some folks definitely not listening. Others, where they're in those low-lying areas, it seems like they might be.

DAVIS: The storm is expected to pick up in the coming hours. What is it like on the ground right now where you are?

GRAZIANO: OK. As I said, it's starting to pick up. I had my back turned to talk on the phone. And some water splashed up at me. So it looks like - we're not at high tide yet. But the water is definitely approaching, I guess, the ground level here.

And it is raining, as you can hear. And you might be hearing it on the sort of patter of the jacket here. And we also do have some wind as well. So I would say conditions are deteriorating. It's expected to be worse, from what I've heard from the National Hurricane Center. It's expecting to be worse in Connecticut from about 11 this morning to 4 o'clock in the afternoon with the rain.

DAVIS: Have local officials given you any sense of their concerns about locally? I talked to another official who said the biggest concern is losing power, that they don't have the infrastructure to withstand a big storm. What's the concern from officials in your town?

GRAZIANO: It's - excuse me - 'cause I know a lot of - locally we've been talking about infrastructure billing and things like that. So Connecticut's power grid was struggling before that we've had this storm.

DAVIS: Right.

GRAZIANO: So there is a lot of concern. And the local power company is really expecting perhaps 69% of Connecticut residents to be without power.

DAVIS: Wow. Well, that is Connecticut Public Radio's Frankie Graziano, who's covering Tropical Storm Henri. Thank you so much for your time.

GRAZIANO: Thank you, Susan. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.