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A weakening Hurricane Lee is making its way up to Nova Scotia


Hurricane Lee has been downgraded to post-tropical cyclone Lee but still doing damage to the New England coast and eastern Canada. Trees are down. Tens of thousands of people have lost power as the storm moves north with winds as high as 80 miles an hour. States of emergency have been declared in Massachusetts and Maine. We're joined now by Carol Bousquet of Maine Public, who is in Portland, Maine. Carol, thanks for being with us. And what's it look like there?

CAROL BOUSQUET, BYLINE: Well, Scott, the wind is whipping outdoors, but not much rain is falling here in Portland. But in areas to our north, things are deteriorating. Thousands of customers are without power, as you mentioned. The state Emergency Management Agency is now opening warming shelters for residents as temperatures have dropped across the state. Down East Maine, however, will get the brunt of Lee's impacts - 4 to 6 inches of heavy rain and big swells that will bring a storm surge and flooding.

SIMON: Any reports of injuries so far?

BOUSQUET: None that we have heard of yet, but the state is really asking people to hunker down and stay home and avoid going out on the roads. So we're hopeful residents are listening.

SIMON: The National Weather Service cautions that waves could reach up to 15 feet along the coast - people secured their boats or taking them out to water? Taking - forgive me...

BOUSQUET: Absolutely. All week...

SIMON: ...Taking them out of the water.

BOUSQUET: (Laughter) Absolutely, Scott. Harbor masters and fishermen have been pulling boats out of the water and bringing them to safe harbor all week long. And emergency management directors in coastal towns are ensuring first responders are ready to clear roads, respond to emergencies and open shelters. Eastport is an island about as far Down East as you can get in Maine. The port authority there has packed all fishing vessels into the Eastport breakwater, which is a concrete pier and safe harbor.

SIMON: And, Carol, from people with whom you've been able to speak, what kind of plans are they making - precautions are they taking to wait out the storm?

BOUSQUET: Well, they've been told to have adequate food, water and medicine on hand, charge their devices and stay put. And they should know two evacuation routes inland. And if they're running generators, they should be operated 15 feet from their homes and not in an enclosed area. On the lighter side, they're planning creative ways to ride out the storm. One family tells us they will play Scrabble with flashlights if they lose power. Another woman plans to cook jambalaya if she does have power. And the Inn on Great Diamond Island in Casco Bay is planning a storm party with guests that are staying and riding out Storm Lee.

SIMON: Maine Jambalaya is, of course, so noted. Is this a different experience for the kind of storm in Maine's experience and what they've had in past years?

BOUSQUET: Yes, absolutely. As I was speaking with folks up north, they say they're used to nor'easters with a lot of snow but not tropical cyclones or storms where the winds change on a moment's notice. So this is a new experience for a lot of the coastal communities. They're going to be watching it all day, ready to respond if they can, if winds change and they have to act quickly.

SIMON: Carol Bousquet of Maine Public in Portland, Maine. Our best to your colleagues who are doing so much to cover the story for our listeners there. Thanks very much, and stay safe.

BOUSQUET: Thank you, Scott. Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Carol Bousquet