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Berkshire County Largely Spared From Worst Of Henri Over Weekend

A puddle of water with ripples from raindrops over cobblestones and a metal drain
Josh Landes

Despite concerns about Tropical Storm Henri slamming Berkshire County Sunday night, the region’s residents woke to relative calm Monday morning.

Over the weekend, the county braced for a weather emergency, with warnings issued about possible power outages, cancelations, and public school gyms readied for temporary shelter.

“We were ready. We prepared our staff, our crews to respond in any event. We activated them yesterday around 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and went on to respond to specific locations that were, started to get flooding," said Pittsfield, Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Utilities Ricardo Morales. “What we did prior to that was get ready with sandbags and preparations, looking into some of our trouble culverts, crossings, and streams and flood prone areas, making sure that those were ready to receive the water in excess amounts.”

But by Monday, the Berkshires had only received a modest brush with Henri.

“Actually, we're pretty good shape right now," said Alan Zerbato, the superintendent of the Town of Lee Department of Public Works. "We got roughly two inches of rainfall due to this storm. And currently, it's quiet. We anticipate heavy rainfall around this afternoon based on the recent radar. But all in all, we had no issues with any kind of tree damage or anything like that. And no flooding to report at this time.”

Morales says Pittsfield only had limited closures as a result of the rain.

“We did have to close the Dan Casey Culvert, the Dan Casey Drive road because of the culvert being overtaken by water, and we did have some culverts that were a little overwhelmed- Not anything that we didn't anticipate, so we had our crews ready," he told WAMC. "One of our roadways that also is prone to flooding, Center Street by West Street, saw some flooding immediately as we were getting the downpour.

Emergency or not, county stores saw a surge in customers prepping for the storm.

“People were preparing and there was a line at the deli in the morning," said Bernie Fallon. "And it was, it seemed to be many people from out of town, visitors. And it was it was quite busy. The types of things people were buying, it was smaller stuff. There were definitely grocery shoppers. But there was enough for a day or two type of type of shopping.”

Fallon is the owner of Loeb’s Foodtown in Lenox.

“We were anticipating a Tanglewood weekend, Tanglewood is a mile down the road," he told WAMC. "So each of the concerts on Saturday and Sunday were canceled. The first one was canceled because this performer was sick, the second one because of the weather. And so we were prepared for that.”

The Brandi Carlile appearance with Mavis Staples at the venerable Lenox venue on Saturday was postponed as was the Judy Collins, Richard Thompson, Jesse Colin Young show Sunday. MASS MoCA in North Adams also called off a performance by The Roots in the face of the grim forecast.

“It’s not a wash, but it's – knock on wood – the store is very busy as it is," said Fallon. "And so, you know, without the show, the volume wasn't quite as high, but it did kind of balance out.”

Despite losing a weekend of concert crowds, Fallon says on balance the season has been bullish for Loeb’s.

“Business is great," he said. "2020 was solid. We're pretty new owners here, still- We’ll be new owners for a long time. This is our third summer, and each year is increasingly better. And this year, it was strong.”

With more rain in the forecast, the Berkshires aren’t entirely in the clear yet.

“We are expecting that to see something similar to what we saw yesterday afternoon in terms of the impact," Morales told WAMC. "So, we didn't see many trees down. It's going to be water related. So we're going to be ready, as we were yesterday. We are currently, with our crews, on the ready to act.”

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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