LONG ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- Long Island narrowly missed a direct impact from Tropical Storm Henri, but it did not diminish the risks of storm surges and heavy rain.
Henri's track shifted slightly east Sunday, which spared eastern Long Island from a dreaded direct hit, but hardly diminished the dangers of heavy rain, flash flooding, coastal surges, and strong winds that had much of the New York area and New England bracing for the worst.
Instead, Henri made landfall Sunday near Westerly, Rhode Island not long after passing Block Island around 11 a.m.
Henri weakened to a tropical depression Sunday night, but could still bring heavy rainfall and flooding across the Northeast and New England.
Steady driving rain was the name of the game on the South Shore of Long Island, and all along the boardwalk folks came out to see mother nature do her thing.
The storm is expected to continue throughout the day, with peak gusts ranging from 55 to 65 mph in western areas and 60 to 70 mph on the east end of Long Island.
Power outages were expected as a result of Henri.
Henri's track made flooding along Long Island's north shore a major concern because of storm surge.
While the worst of the storm had likely passed along the north shore by 5 p.m. Sunday, the high tide will be the next concern after at least two and a half inches of rain feel in the area.
The rain and storm surge from Henri pushed into the Long Island Sound and Huntington Harbor, raising the dock levels at the Ketewomoke Yacht Club as nervous boat owners pumped out dinghies and kept an eye on moored sailboats.
"So far, knock on wood, as long as the winds stay good, we should be OK," said Charlene and Eric Fehrenbacher.
The wind did stay relatively calm despite heavy downpours in Henri's bands of rain, but had the storm tracked further west, like Hurricane Sandy in 2012, it would have been a different story.
That past flooding did lead to some infrastructure improvements in Huntington and they were tested Sunday.
"They did a lot of flood mitigation a few years ago on the roadway up here, there's two rotaries they put in with a lot of storm drainage, so I think it's much improved," said Oliver Bodine.
While there is plenty of street flooding in the area, there haven't been too many power outages because the wind wasn't as harsh as it could have been, at least in Nassau County.
In Suffolk County, a Tropical Storm Warning was still in place Sunday evening, but storm surge warnings were canceled.
The storm unleashed a pounding surf, while taking a sharp turn to the north and east. The people of Eastern Long Island-who spent 48 hours preparing for the storm-were spared the worst of it.
The rain was relentless, wind gusts threatened trees and power lines. And the storm rolled in just as high tide peaked in the Atlantic.
"Obviously, the concern, here, was for flooding surge, high tide cycles and astronomical high tide cycle," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. "You know when these things come together at the same time, they can produce really bad outcomes."
But by mid-afternoon, there were no reports of widespread flooding and the highest winds were recorded miles away. Fishermen were grateful-but not entirely surprised.
"I've been fishing for 30 years, nothing worse than usual, you know, we're used to the hurricanes out here in Montauk, you know," said fisherman Pete Fagan.
So, the tropical storm with the fancy French name grazed the Hamptons and kept on going. The part of the metropolitan region that was expected to fare worst, may have fared best.
The big waves were heaven on Earth for those who consider the ocean their second home.
A steady driving rain was the name of the game on the south shore of Long Island, not necessarily power winds.
All along the boardwalk, people came out to see Mother Nature do her thing and by late morning and early afternoon, folks were keeping eye on a series of canals, which during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, .decimated the neighborhood.
All in all, those who spoke with Eyewitness News on Sunday said it was a big sigh of relief that the tropical storm was more of a nuisance than anything else.
Henri prompted closures across New York State Parks on Long Island, including Jones Beach State Park and Bethpage State Park, out of an abundance of caution.
At several parks, rising water is blocking ramps, walkways and even some courts are flooded.
Park employees and staff were required to report to work to assist with the closures
PREPARING FOR POWER LOSS
PSEG has strengthened the electric grid to better withstand the extreme weather, including elevating a number of substations in hopes to speed up the power restoration time.
Residents are encouraged to prepare in the event of a loss of power. Make sure you have working flashlights, extra batteries, bottled water, candles and other basic essentials.
If you do lose power, please call PSEG at 1-800-490-0075. You can also download the PSEG Long Island mobile app to report an outage.
FIRE ISLAND EVACUATED
Bellone announced a voluntary evacuation order for Fire Island Saturday. He urged residents and visitors to leave the island on Saturday saying that all ferries for Sunday have been canceled and he's not sure when ferry service will be restored.
Officials announced Sunday night that Fire Island National Seashore would resume operations with limited visitor service on Monday after experiencing minimal damage during the storm.
Designated lifeguard beach areas will remain closed on Monday due to hazardous surf conditions. Swimming is not advised.
Additional Henri Coverage
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