HARWICH, Mass. (AP) As the remnants of Hurricane Noel brushed parts of the Northeast with strong winds and heavy rain on Saturday, Heinz Proft sat back and watched the boats moored to the docks rocked back and forth.
The assistant Harwich harbormaster had taken advantage of the ample warning and tied the boats down with extra lines.
"It's a lot easier to do it the day before than scrambling during the rain and wind," he said.
Coastal flood warning and flood watches were in effect up and down the New England coast, with up to 5 inches of rain expected in Cape Cod, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson.
High wind warnings were in effect for coastal New Jersey, the eastern tip of New York's Long Island, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine.
Sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph were expected along most of the coast, with up to 70 mph winds possible along the coast of Maine. On Cape Cod and the islands, isolated gusts could reach 90 mph, the weather service said.
Noel has been blamed for at least 142 deaths in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Jamaica, making it the deadliest storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. thousands were homeless because of catastrophic flooding. Extensive damage was reported in Cuba.
Although the center of the storm was expected to pass about 90 miles east of Nantucket Saturday night, the high wind knocked down tree limbs and caused power outages.
Glenn Beasley, the executive director of the Cape Cod and Islands chapter of the American Red Cross, said shelters were opened in Sandwich, Hyannis, Dennis and on Nantucket.
"The good news is that we had warning and people anticipated the storm," said Beasley.
Orla Murphy Lescola, owner of the American Seasons restaurant on Nantucket, said business was down and that it appeared people were hunkering down at home.
"We'd normally have 90 to 100 customers on a normal Saturday and we're doing about half that," she said. "Nobody comes to the island when we have this kind of weather because they are afraid of getting stuck, and we've known about this for a couple days."
The weather service also posted a winter storm watch for northwestern Maine, where rain was expected to change to snow during the night and produce accumulations of up to 7 inches at higher elevations.