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"Catastrophic" Flooding Has Occurred in Parts of Massachusetts

This is a developing situation. More updates may be added to this article.

Heavy rain began falling across central Massachusetts just after 4:30pm. This rain continued for the rest of the afternoon and throughout the evening. By 7:30pm, up to five inches of rain had been reported in Leominster, Massachusetts.

Around this time, a rare flash flood emergency was issued for Lemominster, Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Lancaster, Sterling, Westminster, Shirley and Princeton. This flash flood emergency remains in effect through 8am Tuesday morning.

The emergency states:

"Emergency management reported thunderstorms producing heavy rain in emergency manager reports roadways being washed out and flood waters entering homes and business. Between 6 and 9 inches of rain have fallen."

The flash flooding began during the evening commute. This led to numerous cars getting stuck in the waters. Route 2 and Route 117 were hit particularly hard. Photos showed numerous cars flooded to their headlights and higher.

Flooding on Route 2 in Leominster. Photos: Colton Flint

Most roads around the city became flooded and closed. A culvert at the intersection of Pleasant Street and Colburn Street washed out. This caused the foundation of a house to become undermined. The residents were evacuated. This also created a sinkhole in the middle of the street.

Sinkhole on Pleasant Street and Colburn Street in Leominster. Photo: Steph Massoni-Stacy

Numerous rescues and evacuations have been taking place over the past several hours, from both homes and stranded vehicles. Some videos and photos showed firefighters pulling rafts of people to area hospitals. Another video showed a motorist waiting for rescue on the roof of their car.

Significant structural damage has likely occurred throughout the city of Leominster as flood waters poured into buildings. Reports of damaged homes and businesses have come from across the city. A building was reported to be partially collapsed between Water Street and Mechanic Street.

A reservoir off Exchange Street is an area of concern. Firefighters went door to door to evacuate residents of the street.

Officials from across Massachusetts have been called in to help with rescues and evacuations, which will likely continue all night long. Leominster mayor Dean Mazzarella has declared a state of emergency. Leominster Public Schools will be closed Tuesday.

A shelter has opened at the Francis Drake Elementary School. About 30 people were reported to be there as of 10:30pm. Most are from a mobile home park which was evacuated earlier in the night. A video showed volunteers unloading bottled water.

This is only the second flash flood emergency issued in Massachusetts since the alert debuted in 2014. This is the second flash flood emergency issued in New England this year, the first being in Vermont during the great flood of 2023 in July.

More rain with the potential of flash flooding is expected on Wednesday.

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