Thunderstorms and heavy rain caused damage in parts of Massachusetts on Sunday, including Norwood, where flooding led officials to evacuate patients from a hospital.
About 20 patients were evacuated from Norwood Hospital after flooding in the facility’s basement led to electrical issues and caused the building to lose power around 6:30 p.m., according to Norwood’s general manager, Tony Mazzucco. An additional 60 to 70 patients were evacuated around 10 p.m. while the power outage remained unresolved, according to a statement released early Monday.
Mazzucco said flash flooding in the area overwhelmed the storm drains. Some patients remained in the Draper Building, a part of the hospital complex that did not lose power, according to the statement.
“Thankfully no one was injured as the result of the power outage, and the most critical patients were moved out of the hospital,” Mazzucco said.
The Emergency Room at Norwood Hospital is temporarily closed until further notice. Individuals in need of medical attention in the area can go to Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro or Beth Israel Deaconess in Needham. Norwood Urgent Care is also open to walk-ins.
The first floor of the building appeared flooded, and some patients were taken out of the emergency room on stretchers. EMS vehicles from several municipalities were on scene to provide aid.
One person who had tested positive for the coronavirus was being treated at the hospital, according to state data updated on Saturday evening.
Several cars were submerged in water in a section of the hospital’s parking lot.
Salvatore Perla, president of the hospital, called the flooding “significant” in a televised interview posted by Boston 25.
“I don’t think we can assume a facility can take on eight feet of water and think that there’s a fail-safe,” he said.
Perla also said that the flooding came from “multiple areas,” but noted that the hospital was able to get through the situation with “zero injuries.”
A spokesperson from Steward Health Care, which operates the hospital, said the company was responding to the evacuations.
“Our hospital leadership is working collaboratively with the Norwood Fire Department on a controlled evacuation of the hospital,” the company said in a statement.
A weather service forecast discussion posted just after 7 p.m. Sunday noted that storms were hitting across northern Rhode Island and central and northern Massachusetts with heavy rain, which “produced significant flooding” in parts of Norfolk and southeastern Worcester counties. Wind damage and hail was reported around the Greater Boston area, as well as in parts of Essex, Norfolk, and Hampshire counties.
Boston was under a severe thunderstorm watch into the early evening on Sunday, according to the weather service. Lightning and heavy rain began in and around Boston at about 1:30 p.m.
The storms caused damage in communities around the state. Firefighters responded to a fire in Watertown after a lightning strike set a house on fire at the intersection of Mount Auburn and Marshall streets sometime after 2 p.m. The fire was extinguished by 6 p.m., though crews planned to remain on scene for another couple of hours, according to Captain Paul Borque.
Crews responded to another home on Mechanic Street in Upton after a lightning strike was reported there Sunday evening. No injuries were reported, officials said in a statement.
Still, much of the state is considered to be in a “significant drought,” a result of recent warmer-than-usual temperatures and little precipitation since May, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs announced Friday.
Residents in the Connecticut River Valley, and Western, Central, and Northeast regions — the areas where the drought has officially been declared — were advised to minimize overall water use.
The state also warned of increased wildfire risk Friday, with 110 wildfires reported in the past 30 days.
The declaration came amid dry conditions throughout New England, according to the United States Drought Monitor, a collaboration of University of Nebraska-Lincoln with government agencies to track droughts nationwide.
As of Thursday, when its latest map was released, the drought monitor found “moderate drought” conditions stretching from Connecticut to Maine.
A National Weather Service meteorologist, Torry Gaucher, who noted the agency does not track longer-term trends like droughts, said dry conditions are likely to continue in the near term despite a smattering of pop-up storms Sunday and throughout the upcoming week.
“They’ll help out people’s lawns that are turning brown right now, but won’t do much to relieve us of drought status,” he said. “It’s like putting a Band-Aid on at this point.”
Still, the spots of heavy rain, along with cooler temperatures expected for much of the coming week, could have positive impacts in some places, according to Gaucher. “Just for individual communities that will get that helping hand,” he said.
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