East Coast braces for Hurricane Earl

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Thursday September 2, 2010


Officials along the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts continue to brace for the heavy rains, strong winds and high tides forecasters say Hurricane Earl could bring as it approaches the coast on Friday, Sept. 3.

Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket in Massachusetts are under a hurricane watch, while Fire Island remains under a tropical storm watch. The Jersey Shore is under a tropical storm warning. A hurricane watch remains in effect from Cape Henlopen, Dela., to the North Carolina/Virginia border. And the Outer Banks of North Carolina is under a hurricane warning.

Provincetown, which is at the tip of Cape Cod, could experience near hurricane-force winds and up to two inches of rain as Earl passes south of Nantucket late on Friday, Sept. 3. Candy Collins-Boden, executive director of the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce, said her agency remains in touch with state officials who continue to monitor the hurricane. The PCC has also distributed hurricane preparedness information from the American Red Cross to member businesses.

Some businesses have begun to take down flags and outside displays in anticipation of Earl's high winds, while mariners have begun to pull their boats out of the water. Collins-Boden, who has been the PCC's executive director for 36 years, told EDGE townies continue to take Earl in stride.

"We're very used to northeast storms down here and quite a lot of wind," she told EDGE on Wednesday, Sept. 1. "We don't really panic. We know how to get ready for a storm."

Staffers at the Crown and Anchor and the Revere Guest House told EDGE they have not received any Earl-related cancellations. And aside from the approaching hurricane, the buzz around town (at the moment) seems to circle around the unseasonably hot weather and whether the ocean is safe for swimming.

"We just had three of the most perfect days we've had all summer," said David Shunney of the Revere Guest House. "They're not talking about it doing anything until Friday."

Officials have begun to urge residents and vacationers on Fire Island, which is particularly susceptible to tidal flooding because the majority of the 34-mile long barrier island is only a few feet above sea level, to secure their boats, outdoor furniture, umbrellas and other items. Fire Island could experience tropical storm conditions on Friday, Sept. 3, when Earl is forecast to pass southeast of Long Island, Joseph Williams, commissioner of Suffolk County's Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, told the Fire Island News the beach could experience minor flooding along the Great South Bay.

There are no immediate plans to evacuate Fire Island, but the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association told its members in an e-mail on Wednesday, Sept. 1, Earl will cause "significant damage to our beach." Wendy Lewis of the Grove Hotel in Cherry Grove told EDGE later in the day, however, the ominous forecast did not deter people from the beach (Temperatures had climbed into the 90s.)

"People are concerned," she said. "We've been through this many times, but we are waiting to see what happens."

As of 11 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 1, Earl was located about 520 miles south southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. The hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, and was moving north northwest at 18 mph.

Hurricane Danielle-generated swells reached the East Coast last weekend, but storm-savvy Provincetown residents hope Earl will not put a damper on the end of one of the best summers in years.

"Everybody's on the alert and getting ready for some wind and some rain," said Collins-Boden. "Too bad it had to happen on a holiday weekend."

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.