A state of emergency was declared due to devastating flash flooding in Leominster, Massachusetts, Monday night after furious rain inundated roads, created sinkholes and damaged homes.
Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella said the city was under a state of emergency at 5:30 p.m. ET Monday night, warning on social media, “Do not venture out. It is not safe.”
Slow-moving thunderstorms sparked flash flooding across portions of New England Monday evening, dumping 9.5 inches over Leominster, which is northwest of Boston.
The mayor shared videos on Facebook from his drives through the city warning people to stay home.
“Everything’s flooding. Simplest thing I can tell you. It’s every part of the city. It’s basements, roofs, cars, it’s everywhere. What I can tell you is there’s no reason to go out, unless it’s an emergency, stay home,” Mazzarella said in a video.
He said police and fire were called in to help and rivers were in danger of reaching above crest levels.
A flash flood emergency was declared for the area through 10:30 p.m. and was extended to 8 a.m. Tuesday morning for Leominster, Fitchburg and Lunenburg, the National Weather Service said. The warning urged locals to “move immediately to higher ground” and avoid walking or driving through flood waters.
Stark images from overnight show streets turned into rivers, buildings partially collapsed, and gaping sinkholes in streets making some roads impassable.
Early Tuesday morning, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency issued an evacuation alert due to concern over the Barrett Park Pond Dam.
The alert said people in low-lying areas of the Fall Brook tributary to Fall Brook along Central Street, Fall Brook, and the North Nashua River should “immediately evacuate and safely leave the area.”
A shelter is available at Sky View Middle School in Leominster, officials said.
In an update Tuesday morning, Mayor Mazzarella said that around 15 roads were closed in town, around 100 people were sheltered at Frances Drake Elementary School, and the floods impacted businesses and homes while dozens, if not hundreds of cars, had to be towed out of floodwaters Monday night, NBC Boston reported.
Crews are now working to assess the damage and schools are closed in Leominster on Tuesday.
Gov. Maura Healey tweeted Monday night: “My heart goes out to residents and public safety officials in Leominster and other communities experiencing catastrophic flooding tonight.”