The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced that it is assessing the damage left by Tropical Storm Henri – which directly hit state beaches, management areas, and several other facilities in the state – and began cleaning up today. With temperatures expected to soar to the mid-90s later this week, DEM is focusing first on preparing beaches for reopening.

About 150 trees at Burlingame State Campground came down during Tropical Storm Henri Sunday, according to DEM

“The natural assets that DEM manages for the public include 8,200 acres of parklands, 1,000 campsites, 400 miles of hiking and biking trails, 200 fishing spots, 67 unique recreational areas, 25 parks, and eight surf beaches,” said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray in a statement. “As relieved as we are that Tropical Storm Henri did not have the severe impact on Rhode Island that we feared could happen, our properties took some knocks during the storm, especially with downed trees and limbs, and I am proud of the response of our experienced and professional employees both for the advanced planning and the quick action to get those facilities ready for public use again.”

Beaches

State beaches are closed today while crews clean up debris and rake and smooth out sand, which the storm surge pushed higher up the beachfront in some areas. East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown and the Charlestown Breachway are without power. Reopening them will depend on when power is restored. Otherwise, tomorrow DEM plans on reopening Scarborough North, Roger Wheeler, and Salty Brine state beaches in Narragansett, East Beach in Charlestown, and Misquamicut in Westerly. As DEM announced Friday, Scarborough South State Beach is closed weekdays and open weekends only for the last two weeks of the season.

On reopening, DEM will be flying purple flags indicating the presence of dangerous marine life. Today DEM employees found several Portuguese Men o’ War washed ashore on state beaches.

Parks

Only one state park is closed today: Beavertail, in Jamestown, due to high surf. All other parks are open but in the process of being assessed and cleaned. DEM urges the public to stay away from any downed trees and to contact DEM (at DEM.RIparks@dem.ri.gov) in case they see any trees that are leaning, possibly indicating structural problems.

Campgrounds

State campgrounds are currently closed. Staff is assessing and addressing storm damage. DEM expects to reopen George Washington Campground (Chepachet),  Fishermen’s Memorial Campground (Narragansett), and Charlestown Breachway (depending on power restoration) on Wednesday, August 25. Due to extensive tree damage, we do not expect Burlingame State Campground to reopen before Thursday, August 26. East Beach Campground (Charlestown) also is closed until at least Thursday, August 26, to allow for restoration work to the sand trail. Please refer to the DEM website for more information on refunds and rebooking.

Division of Fish & Wildlife Facilities

The Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Great Swamp Field Office, E-Hun-Tee Education Office, and Great Swamp Shooting Range are closed today due to power outages, road closures, and required cleanup. Please contact DEM.DFW@dem.ri.gov for questions or further information.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).