Cape Cod Hardest Hit by Storm
Rhode Island also takes losses; contamination affects regional shellfish industry and beaches
ON the first day of sunshine after Hurricane Bob swept through this picturesque Cape Cod community, business owners, vacationers, and residents were busy patching up damage, clearing away downed trees, and coping with power outages.Downtown restaurants served diners by candlelight. Residents shopped for extra batteries and bags of ice. Curious onlookers surveyed shattered summer cottages. Restaurant and hotel owners lamented loss of tourist business. Peter Riley, co-owner of the Townhouse Restaurant in Falmouth, said the storm "couldn't have come at a worse time. [This is] always the best week of the season." The storm, which hit the Northeast coast last Monday and left a trail of damage from North Carolina to Canada, caused widespread power outages on Cape Cod and in Rhode Island. Highways, beaches, and bridges were damaged by wind and storm surge. Boats lay smashed along beaches and against shoreline cottages. Acting on behalf of Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R), who traveled to the Far East on a trade mission, Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci on Friday lifted the state of emergency that had been imposed as Bob approached. He also requested that President Bush declare the state a disaster area and provide $979 million worth of federal assistance for repairing damage to private and public property and loss of crops. "The fact that we're lifting the state of emergency is a good sign that things are returning to normal and that the major threat to public health and safety is over," Mr. Cellucci said at a press conference. "But we are not forgetting those customers and those homes and those businesses that do not have their power restored." Other Northeastern states are struggling in the storm's aftermath. In Maine, coastal beaches are contaminated with bacteria due to storm runoffs and sewage overflows. Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun (D) requested that President Bush declare his state a disaster area and provide $9 million in federal funds for disaster relief. The state is also having a sewage problem from hurricane flooding; raw sewage is seeping into Narragansett Bay, causing shellfish contamination. "It looks like the shell fisherman will be out of work at least a week and maybe beyond," said Dick Bouchard, deputy director of Rhode Island's Emergency Management Agency. But power loss was the major concern. At the height of the storm, approximately 2 million Massachusetts homes and businesses were out of power, according to Jerry Meister, chief of operations at the state Emergency Management Agency. Out-of-state utility crews were contracted to help restore power, some coming from as far away as Canada. Vacationers had to adjust as well. Some left the Cape early while others canceled hotel reservations. But long-term problems persist. Crop damage has been severe. Gregory Watson, commissioner of the Massachusetts Food and Agriculture Department, estimates $10 million in crop losses due to the hurricane. He says the state has lost 15 to 25 percent of its sweet corn harvest and 25 to 30 percent of its apple harvest. Bay State farmers were already struggling with losses due to drought, he says; some areas have seen corn crop losses of 10 to 15 percent due to below-normal rainfall. "Hurricane Bob sort of finished them off," Mr. Watson says.