September 5, 2010 in Nation/World

Seasonal businesses were hurricane’s biggest victims

Russell Contreras Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Traffic backs up on the Bonner Bridge near Nags Head, N.C., on Saturday as people return to Hatteras Island following mandatory evacuations of the barrier island for Hurricane Earl.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

YARMOUTH, Mass. – In the end, Earl’s worst damage in New England was to seasonal businesses hoping to end their summer on a high note.

The tropical storm, far less intense than feared, brushed past the Northeast and dumped heavy, wind-driven rain on Cape Cod cottages and fishing villages but caused little damage.

It left clear, blue skies in its wake. It was the perfect start to a Labor Day weekend that Cape Cod’s restaurants and hotels hoped to salvage after business was decimated ahead of the storm.

“This traditionally for us is a sellout weekend,” said Voula Nikolakopoulos, one of the owners of Tidewater Inn in West Yarmouth, where business was down 80 percent. “I understand that we have to be careful, but I think all this hype was premature.”

Massachusetts suffered a few hundred power outages, a handful of downed power lines and isolated flooding. Maine saw rain and churning surf but no gusts strong enough to produce damage.

After skimming past North Carolina and Massachusetts, Earl finally made landfall Saturday morning near Western Head, Nova Scotia. It has been blamed for the death of a man who drowned while trying to secure his boat near Halifax.

The storm brought heavy sheets of rain and swift gusts, toppling some trees and knocking out power to more than 200,000 customers in Nova Scotia. There were numerous flight and ferry cancellations.

Earl had swooped into New England waters Friday night as a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph after sideswiping North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where it caused flooding but no injuries and little damage. The rain it brought to Cape Cod, Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard was more typical of the nor’easters that residents have been dealing with for generations.

Winds on Nantucket blew at around 30 mph, with gusts above 40 mph. The island got more than 2 inches of rain, while adjacent Martha’s Vineyard got more than 4 inches. Hyannis, home to the Kennedy family compound, got about 4.5 inches.

Earl, once a fearsome Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds, did kick up dangerous riptides up and down the coast. Officials warned that rip currents would continue to be a concern over the weekend.

In central New Jersey, a body found by fishermen in an inlet Saturday was identified as that of a swimmer who went missing Thursday in rough ocean surf spawned by Earl, police said.

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