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Earl put up its dukes, but withered into a blob of rain and wind

After touching the outer banks of North Carolina, the storm bypassed much of America's East Coast, dumping rain in Massachusetts before making landfall in Nova Scotia Saturday morning.

By Staff writer / September 4, 2010

Fishermen Chris DeViller inspects the lines of his boat in Pinkney's Point on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada, September 4, 2010. Tropical storm Earl made landfall in the province Saturday.

Paul Darrow/Reuters

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Boston

In the end, hurricane Earl proved to be just a dress rehearsal in storm-season preparedness.

After touching the outer banks of North Carolina, the storm bypassed much of America's East Coast, dumping rain in Massachusetts before making landfall in Nova Scotia Saturday morning.

"Some power lines down, some isolated limited flooding" is how Craig Fugate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) summed up the impacts in a press briefing Saturday.

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By the time it was dumping rain on Boston Friday night, US weather officials had downgraded Earl from a once-mighty category 4 hurricane to a tropical storm. Canadian officials called it a category 1 hurricane on Saturday.

But Mr. Fugate, the administrator of FEMA, stressed that dodging Earl doesn't mean the agency or coastal residents can let down their guard.

"We're still 87 days away from the end of hurricane season," he said. "We still have tropical weather out there" in which storms can form.

Fugate said that a law passed by Congress after hurricane Katrina affected FEMA's preparations along the Atlantic Coast. It "did enable us to begin positioning teams well in advance of any potential requests from a state."

Earl slowed from wind speeds of 145 miles per hour on Thursday to 70 m.p.h. or less as it reached Massachusetts. The storm caused some flooding but no injuries or significant damage in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Massachusetts saw some power outages and isolated flooding. Nantucket island got more than two inches of rain, while nearby Martha's Vineyard got four inches.

Residents of the East Coast, along with federal emergency teams, breathed a collective sigh of relief as the storm departed.

"We're ecstatic [about what] didn't happen," Fugate said. "We're looking forward to some time off this weekend," and to being prepared for any new storm threats, he said.

The storm caused dangerous riptides up and down the coast. In New Jersey, two young men apparently died earlier this week in the rough surf caused by Earl and the hurricane before it, Danielle. Weather also hindered the search for a boater who went missing before Earl's arrival off Portsmouth, N.H.

The Department of Homeland Security recommends that Americans be prepared for potential disasters, including hurricanes, by having emergency kits and a game-plan for keeping in contact with family members.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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