CT officials urge people not to swim in state parks, beaches for 72 hours after Henri

Hartford

BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) – Henri continued to dump more rain Monday before leaving Connecticut, causing further flooding concerns across the state. State officials are warning people not to drive or walk through flooded areas, or even swim in public areas for 72 hours after the rain stops.

RELATED: Henri leaves flooding, storm damage in Hartford County communities; more rain on the way

Connecticut was spared a direct hit by Tropical Storm Henri Sunday and Monday, but last Thursday, the remnants of Fred caused isolated flooding.

Because there was so much flooding, especially near the major cities where the sewage can overflow into the rivers, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is not taking any chances despite the hot weather. The state parks are open, but officials are advising residents not to swim.

“It looks like sewage water,” Tracy Lizzotte of DEEP told News 8. And DEEP says it just might be.

Lizzotte added, “We have a lot of contaminants especially bacteria contaminants in the water from runoff, from stormwater and sewer overflow.”

When you look at the water, it’s brown and frothy and doesn’t look clean at all, but DEEP says everybody’s ‘yuck test’ is different so they had to close the state parks to swimming. And that includes the four major beaches along the shoreline.

Lizzotte explained, “We will be testing [Tuesday] and try to do all 22 state parks to get them open because the weather is going to be warm and that will also include our four coastal beaches Rocky Neck, Hammonassett, Silver Sands, and Sherwood Island we will be testing.”

Testing will begin early in the morning on Tuesday and go throughout the day. And they hope to have the results back by Wednesday so they can start opening up the beaches.

In the meantime, DEEP says while the water isn’t closed, people are being urged not to swim in the water. If you break the rules and swim, you are risking your health.

“It can make you sick. You can have skin rashes. But a lot of times when you go swimming you get water up your nose or in your mouth, so you could also have gastrointestinal issues also.”

On the banks of the Pequabuck River in Bristol Monday, too, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz warned of urban flooding risks caused by Henri. Bysiewicz is surveying areas dealing with flooding threats.

In Bristol, the flood of 1955 put part of the Peqaubuck River underground.

RELATED: Portion of road in Manchester cracked in half from excessive water damage during Henri

Officials have been replacing bridges and working to drain reservoirs, but remain concerned about keeping up with the final amount of rain Henri could leave behind.

“When they say six to three inches, as a public works director, our biggest concern is over what amount of time that is going to recede. When we get four to five inches of rain in an hour, like Thursday, that’s a problem for local systems. When we get ten inches over a 24-hour period, it becomes an issue for our major rivers,” said Ray Rogozinaki, Bristol Public Works director.

“Wetlands across the state traditionally before there was a lot of development were able to take on a lot of water when there was severe weather. Now, in areas like Bristol and Bridgeport, there’s less opportunity.”

Bysiewicz says she’s haunted by two Plainville teens who died last month swimming in the Farmington River.

For the ladies who walk in Stratton Brook State Park, one look at the water and they understand why they can’t swim in their local watering hole.

“It’s murky, it’s brown, it’s not the color of the water of our dreams!” one told News 8.

So to be clear, the beaches aren’t closed, you just can’t swim in the water. So if you wanna go play in the sand have a picnic lunch that’s OK, just don’t go into the water for another few days.

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