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Only road onto NC island reopening after Arthur

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 5, 2014 at 7:01 pm •  Published: July 5, 2014

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's popular beach towns began returning to the business of recreation Saturday, after Arthur lashed the state's coast with forceful winds and heavy rain and then churned northward without leaving a trail of significant damage.

Arthur was downgraded to a tropical storm early Saturday, but the storm's near-hurricane strength winds slammed into Canada's maritime provinces, causing about 250,000 customers to lose power. The storm has caused flight cancellations and delays at the region's largest airport in Halifax, while flooding some local roads in New Brunswick.

New England was largely spared from damage spawned by the storm, but some 19,000 people in Maine and 1,600 in Vermont were without power after high winds and heavy rains pounded the region. There were reports of localized flooding in coastal areas of Massachusetts and the Nova Star Ferry suspended service Friday and Saturday morning because of dangerous seas. No injuries or deaths have been reported.

The hurricane's effects in North Carolina were mostly confined to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, and some vacationers were already back on beaches to the north and south on Friday. But the ocean churned by Arthur remained dangerous Saturday with the risk of rip currents able to wash the strongest swimmer to sea. That didn't stop thousands of people from enjoying the sun and sand and leaving lifeguards to remind beach-goers of the danger.

"We're going to try to keep people out of the water and keep them safe," said David Elder, lifeguard supervisor for the town of Kill Devil Hills. "However, if conditions abate, I'd be glad to drop" the no-swimming warning. More than 600 of the 700 lifeguard rescues by Elder's department last year were required because of rip currents, he said.

The only road onto Hatteras Island was reopened to all traffic on Saturday afternoon, hours after permanent residents were first allowed to return. The island had been closed to visitors since early Thursday. With many weeklong cottage rentals running Saturday to Saturday, local businesses were hoping to salvage the second half of the holiday weekend.

A small section of fragile North Carolina Highway 12 buckled after being submerged by churning waters during the Category 2 hurricane. Officials also tested the two-mile-long Bonner Bridge onto the island to ensure it was safe for traffic. The road also suffered extensive flooding in some areas and officials warned drivers to watch for pockets of sand on the highway.

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