LEOMINSTER, MASS. (WHDH) - City officials declared a state of emergency in Leominster Monday night as heavy rains battered the region, also triggering a flash flood emergency for Leominster and the surrounding area.
The flash flood emergency declared by the National Weather Service included Leominster, Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Princeton and Sterling as of around 11 p.m. A larger swath of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire was included under a series of flash flood warnings earlier in the evening.
In Leominster, rescues were underway in several spots Monday night and officials said they were in the process of rushing mutual aid from neighboring communities and state agencies into hard hit areas while rain continued to fall.
“Do not venture out,” said Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella in a message on Facebook around 6:30 p.m. “It is not safe.”
In a subsequent Facebook Live video, Mazzarella shared a view from a parking lot near the Leominster police station which he said had been flooded since around 4:30 p.m.
“Every crew is out here,” Mazzarella said, adding “We’ve called in everybody.”
Mazzarella further urged community members to stay off the roads and said some buildings in the area had eight feet of water in them around 7:45 p.m.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.
Leominster mayor describes rescues, mutual aid response
Mazzarella spoke with 7NEWS around 9 p.m., saying heavy rain started falling around 4:15 p.m.
As of 9 p.m., Mazzarella said there was no place for the water to go and many streets were blocked.
“People are trying to get off the highway,” he said. “But our streets are flooded.”
In addition to Department of Public Works crews, police officers and firefighters, Mazzarella said city officials had called for help from neighboring communities as well as state authorities.
“We just need bodies at this particular point,” he said.
As officials called for help, though, Mazzarella said the city would need to keep its roads clear.
“We’ve called in for mutual aid,” he said. “We can’t get them here if our roads are blocked because people can’t get through large puddle areas.”
“Stay out of Leominster tonight,” Mazzarella continued.
Mazzarella said downtown Leominster had been hit hard by flooding. Elsewhere, Mazzarella said severe flooding was taking place along the Nashua River and the Monoosnoc Brook.
Near the Monoosnoc Brook, between Water Street and Mechanic Street, Mazzarella said a building had begun to partially collapse. Firefighters were on scene at the building around 9 p.m. working to make sure no one was inside.
Flooding trapped some people in cars in parts of Leominster, requiring rescues, according to Mazzarella.
Off Central Street, a mobile home community was “flooded out,” prompting evacuations, Mazzarella said. 7NEWS cameras on scene captured some of the evacuations, with people seen carrying their belongings away from their homes and toward dry land while rescuers went door to door.
Other people were seen being brought out on boats.
7NEWS spotted multiple rescues in the area of Main Street and Pleasant Street, though floodwaters had receded to some degree around 10:30 p.m.
Off Main Street near the Nashua River, part of a parking area at a luxury car dealership washed out, dropping several cars into what had been steady, solid ground.
WATCH: Flooding washes out part of parking lot at luxury car dealership
As crews contended with the effects of flooding, Leominster Public Schools Superintendent Paula Deacon announced Monday night that city schools will be closed on Tuesday.
“Please stay safe,” Deacon said.
The Frances Drake School on Viscoloid Avenue in Leominster was open as a shelter as of around 9:30 p.m. for those in need, Mazzarella announced on Facebook.
More than 60 people had arrived at the school by 11 p.m.
Flooding prompts road closures, canceled trains
The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) in a statement said various state roads were closed due to flooding as of around 7:50 p.m. including Route 2 in Leominster, Route 1A in Attleboro and Exit 51 from I-90 Eastbound and Westbound in Chicopee.
Route 1A in Attleboro reopened later Monday night.
Eastbound lanes on Route 2 in Leominster had reopened as of early Tuesday morning, according to MassDOT. Westbound lanes remained closed.
Exit 51 on I-90 Eastbound and Westbound in Chicopee reopened Monday night, though I-291 westbound was closed at Exit 6 in the area around 9 p.m.
Several MBTA Commuter Rail trains were canceled, delayed or terminated early on both the Fitchburg and Providence lines beginning around 7 p.m., according to posts on X, formerly known as Twitter.
In a later post, the T announced service had been suspended on the Providence Line between Pawtucket/Central Falls and Wickford Junction due to flash flooding in Providence.
“Expect severe delays in both directions,” the T said.
“Passengers may consider RIPTA bus services as alternatives for service between Pawtucket and Wickford Junction,” the T said in a separate post.
On the Fitchburg Line, the T said all trains will now originate/terminate at Shirley station due to damage from flash flooding.
The T said buses will replace train service between Shirley and Wachusett through the end of service on Tuesday.
“Our engineering team is working to make necessary repairs to resume regular service as soon as possible,” the T said.
In North Attleboro, where heavy rain caused more flash flooding, the town’s emergency operations team in a message asked community members to “please stay off of the roads and shelter in place until further notice” Monday night.
In an update around 11:45 p.m., North Attleboro officials said floodwaters were receding and said the town’s shelter-in-place order had been lifted.
“If you need to drive, please exercise caution and do not attempt to pass through any road closures,” officials said.
Gov. Maura Healey responded to the flooding situations unfolding in Massachusetts communities in a statement earlier Monday night, saying “There are catastrophic floods in the Leominster area and other communities across the state this evening.”
“My heart goes out to the impacted communities and public safety personnel,” Healey said.
Healey said she spoke with Leominster Mayor Mazzarella “and instructed state agencies to do all that they can to assist.”
Personnel with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the Massachusetts State Police and the state Department of Fire Services were on the ground as of Monday night with boat rescue and emergency response teams “to ensure the safety of our residents,” Healey said.
Drier weather expected Tuesday
The flash flood emergency and a corresponding flash flood warning for Leominster, Fitchburg and surrounding communities are scheduled to remain in effect until 8 a.m. Monday
Flash flood warnings elsewhere in southern New England had expired as of 11:30 p.m.
Radar estimates around 9 p.m. Monday showed anywhere from six to nine inches of rain over the past several hours near Leominster, which had already been hit hard by several rounds of rainy weather this summer.
Further south, another stretch of communities along the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border north of Providence and near North Attleboro had received well over seven inches of rain in recent hours before 9 p.m., according to radar estimates.
Steady showers and downpours moved away from southern New England Monday night, leaving only light showers in some spots shortly before midnight.
Some spotty showers are expected to make their way across the region on Tuesday, though they are expected to be less intense and more fast-moving than rain on Monday.
More scattered showers and thunderstorms are forecast on Wednesday.
This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.
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