Henri passes by

Island sees light rain, winds, but significant erosion.

Sand dunes facing the wrath of the waves. — Michael Blanchard

Updated August 24 

Tropical storm Henri hit the Island with little more than a nudge Sunday, bringing light rain and winds.

Around the Island town highway and public works departments saw little to no damage outside a damaged tree in Oak Bluffs.

Oak Bluffs highway superintendent Richard Combra said aside from the Niantic park oak tree, the town didn’t see any damage.

“No, we got really lucky,” Combra said. “No flooding, no issues.”

According to the Trustees of Reservations, several areas have reopened but Norton Point is closed. Beaches are being assessed for damage from the pounding surf brought by Henri.

“Norton Point Beach will remain closed today due to severe erosion of the OSV corridor east of the main entrance. We will continue to assess conditions and report updates as they become available. Menemsha Hills/Brickyard, Long Point Wildlife Refuge (pond side), The Farm Institute, and Mytoi Garden are reopened this morning,” the Trustees wrote in an email.

Leland Beach is not open to OSV travel from the mid-beach crossover down to Wasque Point. “The section of Leland from Dike Bridge to the crossover remains closed through the coming high tide due to erosion and extremely soft sand,” according to a follow up email.

Aside from Norton Point being closed, Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty said there was nothing significant to report.

Photographer Michael Blanchard was on the frontlines of the storm at South Beach in Edgartown, snapping photos of huge sand-filled waves.

“The water was just a complete sand flurry. I got hit with a wave and coated with sand,” Blanchard said. “When I got back I was upset, there’s not gonna be much left.”

In his Facebook post, Blanchard wrote, “I haven’t had this much sand in my pants since I was 3 years old.”

In a conversation with The Times, Blanchard said there was a bulldozer at the entrance to the beach to hold back water.

Indirect services administrator for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) Bret Stearns wrote in an email that he is working to assess damage to some of the more remote areas of Tribal lands.

“Fortunately, minor tree and wind related damage,” Stearns wrote.

Meanwhile, ferries were canceled for most of the day Sunday after the U.S. Coast Guard closed ports. When the Steamship Authority resumed service it snarled traffic in Vineyard Haven. The Tisbury Police Department reported that it was taking traffic minutes to get from Main Street to Five Corners. According to social media posts, it was taking some people two hours to get from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven.

On Monday, the SSA continued to divert boats from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven.

Thomas Hodgson, who collects data for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow for the National Weather Service, told The Times the storm dropped .42 inches of rain on the Vineyard. “Hardly a deluge, but welcome moisture,” he wrote. The National Weather Service reported a wind gust of 42 mph at Cape Poge.

On Tuesday, Hodgson said Monday’s second round of rain showed another .70 inches of rain on the Island.

SSA communications director Sean Driscoll told The Times in an email that the ferry service has added two round trips Monday night to accommodate those displaced by the storm.


Updated to add rain data, comments from Sean Driscoll and Bret Stearns. — Ed.