HARWICH, Mass. – High wind and heavy surf hit parts of the Northeast on Saturday as the remnants of Hurricane Noel blustered northeastward across the open Atlantic.
The worst of the storm was expected to hit Cape Cod at high tide, expected between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson.
"The timing is not that good," he said.
High wind warnings were in effect for coastal New Jersey, the eastern tip of New York's Long Island, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine.
Although the center of the storm was expected to pass about 175 miles east of Long Island, wind was already affecting that area Saturday morning, with the Long Island Power Authority reporting more than 400 customers blacked out.
Coastal flood warning and flood watches were in effect up and down the New England coast. Simpson said Cape Cod could see up to 5 inches of rain, with about 3 inches elsewhere on the Massachusetts coast and up to Maine.
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.
Sustained wind was expected to reach 40 to 50 mph along the New England coast, potentially up to 70 mph on the coast of Maine. The worst of the wind was expected on Cape Cod and the islands, where isolated gusts could reach 90 mph, the weather service said.
At Harwich Port on Cape Cod, boats had been tied down with extra lines on Friday.
"It's a lot easier to do it the day before than scrambling during the rain and wind," said Assistant Harwich Harbormaster Heinz Proft.
In Chatham, some stores were closed because of the weather and several windows were boarded up.
Noel had been blamed for at least 56 deaths in Haiti and 84 in the Dominican Republic, and thousands were homeless because of catastrophic flooding. One death was linked to the storm in the Bahamas, along with one in Jamaica. Extensive damage was reported in Cuba.
The deaths in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Bahamas made Noel the deadliest storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season.
U.S. Southern Command officials said Friday they would send rescue teams to the Dominican Republic during the weekend. Two helicopters from the U.S. Coast Guard already had been deployed. The United States has contributed more than $1 million in aid.
The United Nations, which has a large peacekeeping force in Haiti, planned to send helicopters to survey flood damage over the country's southern peninsula, which was hit hard by the storm.
Unrest was growing across Haiti as many complained about hunger and government inaction.
U.N. and Haitian officials meeting with local firefighters at Les Cayes on Saturday, as heavy rain continued to pound the area, were approached by residents who demanded compensation for the livestock and belongings they lost in flooding.
"It rained for two days without stopping," said 44-year-old farmer Marcel Delswain. "We lost our land. We lost our food. We feel abandoned."