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Severe storm brings damaging winds and hail to parts of New England, prompts rare flash flood emergency


Severe storms brought hail, lightning, strong winds, and damaging floods to parts of New England on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Among the worst affected states was Massachusetts, where a rare flash flood emergency warning was issued and patients from a hospital in Norwood had to be evacuated.

Around 20 patients were evacuated from Norwood Hospital after flooding in the basement caused electrical issues, which led to a power outage in the building around 22:30 UTC (18:30 LT), according to Norwood's general manager, Tony Mazzucco.

Up to 70 more patients were also evacuated four hours later as the outage remained unresolved.

Mazzucco added that flash flooding in the area overwhelmed the drains. Some patients remained in the Draper Building, a portion of the hospital complex that was not affected by the outage.

No injuries were reported, but some computers and phones were down due to flooding.

"Thankfully no one was injured as the result of the power outage, and the most critical patients were moved out of the hospital," said Mazzucco.

"Crews are working to restore power back to the hospital and remove water in the building."

A hospital official told NBC10 Boston, "It's a disaster in here right now."

The National Weather Service in Boston issued its first flash flood emergency since 2014– during Hurricane "Arthur"– for Norwood and surrounding towns as the situation was described to be life-threatening.

The only other time a flash flood emergency was issued was in 2011, for parts of central and western Massachusetts.

Several cars in the parking lot of the hospital were also submerged as the water rushed inside. An employee named Michael Ware tried to grab his car, but waters infiltrated the interior.

"It was something like a movie. It was like we were running away from water," Ware stated. "burst open all the doors in the basement, so all the water just came in at once."

Hospital president Sal Perla called the flooding "significant," adding that "it just came from multiple areas, but we were able to get through all of this with zero injuries."

Elsewhere in Norwood, floodwater spread into downtown streets, creating difficult driving conditions for motorists. Several vehicles were stranded as some roads were blocked.

"You could look outside and all you could see was just this light blue color because you couldn't see anything, there was just so much rain," said Marisa Geary, an employee at Daddy's Dairy on Central Street.

In Boston, streets in Brighton neighborhood were also flooded; wind damage was reported in Newton, as well as hail in parts of the region. In Brooklyn, strong winds uprooted a tree, which crashed down on a home on Perry Street.

Hail the size of a golf ball was also reported across Rhode Islands– so much hail blanketed the ground that it almost looked like snow. 

Residents in Chepachet and Pascoag said they saw piles of hail in their yards shortly after 22:30 UTC.

Featured image credit: Blue Hill Observatory

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