Earl Pulls The Punch; Summer's Last Days Saved

Hurricane Earl was born somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, quickly grew to a Category 5 monster — and calmed down just as fast. Saturday morning, Earl was downgraded to a tropical storm, and northeastern beach communities are hoping they can salvage the last official weekend of summer. Host Scott Simon gets the latest from from Sean Corcoran of member station WCAI.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Hurricane Earl was born somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, quickly grew to a Category 4 monster, calmed down just as fast as it approached the U.S. Today Earl's been downgraded to a tropical storm and northeastern beach communities are hoping they can salvage this last symbolic weekend of summer. Sean Corcoran of member station WCAI joins us from Cape Cod.

Morning, Sean.

SEAN CORCORAN: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: What's the weather like?

CORCORAN: Well, right now it's pretty nice weather out there. The sun is starting to come out. But last night it did get a little nasty with heavy rains and gusty winds. But the storm stayed on a mostly easterly route, so we were avoided the real brunt of the storm that forecasters feared.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. I gather a lot of people did lose power.

CORCORAN: About 1,500 people lost power at the height of the storm, which isn't a significant number compared to past storms. And I think at 5:00 a.m. that number was done to about 300 without power. Back during 1991, Hurricane Bob, Cape Cod and the islands were without power, some folks for up to two weeks.

SIMON: And how would you characterize the mood?

CORCORAN: I think people are pretty relieved. There's a lot of I-told-you-so going on. Early yesterday morning, folks were at the supermarkets getting their water, trying to find batteries, and they were nervous. But as the day went on, as the hurricane was downgraded, spirits lightened and by 4:00 yesterday afternoon, I was talking to folks as they were coming out of the water after going for ocean swims.

SIMON: Well, I mean recognizing there's a, to say the least, special community of people who flock there, especially in the summer, was there some disappointment?

CORCORAN: Some folks came, that I spoke with yesterday, just to be here when the storm hit. They saw it as an event. I think that more people would have left the region if it wasnt the last weekend of summer. They see this as the last chance to get in some fun and sun. And it's supposed to have 80 degree temperatures today. And even Governor Deval Patrick was saying yesterday maybe we can salvage this Labor Day weekend.

SIMON: When all is said and done, Sean, I wonder, is the biggest damage that Cape Cod might sustain to the tourism industry this weekend?

CORCORAN: It does appear that way. It was mostly downed trees and some power lines and branches, but it's not like I've seen in the past where lots of leaves everywhere. So yes, the people that left, that was very discouraging for businesses. But we didnt see the mass exodus that weve seen in the past.

SIMON: Well, Sean, glad youre in one piece and maybe we'll send you someplace in the Gulf Coast when things get hairy the next hurricane season. Okay?

CORCORAN: I appreciate that, Scott. Thank you.

SIMON: Sean Corcoran from WCAI on Cape Cod.

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