City officials say they're read for Lee, with sandbags and temporary flood barriers at the ready to fend off any minor surges and first responders braced for any emergencies caused by flooding, falling trees and downed wires.
In a morning press conference, Mayor Wu and other officials said the National Weather Service's latest forecast for Lee's peak - between late evening Friday into Saturday night - show peak wind gusts of about 30 m.p.h. and rain totals of around 4 inches, which is lower than its forecast earlier this morning, due to an easterly jog in the storm's anticipated path.
All the places that normally flood in even light storms - such as Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester, Long Wharf downtown and Lewis Mall in East Boston will flood. Other areas along the coast, in neighborhoods such as East Boston, the North End and Charlestown, might also see some flooding, they said.
Boston libraries and community centers will be open as storm refuges if necessary, they said, adding that all Boston firetrucks have "flotation suits" that firefighters can don for possible water rescues. Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Burke said he'll have extra firefighters on duty and will break out the city's two "high water" trucks - which can roll through deeper waters than regular vehicles, like six feet deep.
Wu said that Boston public schools will be open as usual on Friday, because the storm is not expected to hit until well after the school day on Friday.
Wu said the winds could bring down trees - and wires. "If you see a downed wire, do not touch that wire or anything it is touching," Wu said. She said call 911 if you see a downed wire, but 311 if you see a downed street tree that has not brought wires down with it. Officials added that while the parks department will respond to downed trees along public sidewalks, it's up to property owners to deal with trees that fall on private property.
Wu asked that, if safe to do so, residents help clear any clogged catch basins near them, because clogged catch basins can quickly lead to flooding. Boston has roughly 30,000 of them.
Burke cautioned homeowners to call 911 if they find appreciable amounts of water in their basements, because the water could become electrified if it gets into sockets down there.
Wu said that, longer term, Boston has begun to look at how to increase the capacity of its storm-drain system - and to begin to build other systems to capture rainwater - as storms become more intense. She said recent flooding in places from Vermont to Providence and Leominster shows that storms are producing more rain, in shorter periods of time, due to climate change.
Burke noted that the two high-water rescue vehicles actually have a dual purpose - in the summer, they serve as brush-fire trucks, because brush fires are also getting more intense, but then the department removes their pumps and houses to serve as flooding rescue trucks.
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