Chatham, Mass. As the remnants of Hurricane Noel brushed parts of the Northeast with strong winds and heavy rain Saturday, Heinz Proft sat back and watched the boats moored to the docks rock back and forth.
The assistant Harwich harbormaster had taken advantage of the ample warning and tied the boats down with extra lines.
"It's a lot easier to do it the day before than scrambling during the rain and wind," he said.
The wind and rain caused some coastal flooding, brought down tree limbs and knocked out power to tens of thousands of people, but spared the New England region widespread damage.
Sustained winds of up to 50 mph along the New England coast were expected to die down by midnight. Most of Cape Cod and the Islands received between 1 1/2 and 2 inches of rain, with up to 3 inches in southern New Hampshire and Maine.
A 70 mph wind gust had been reported on Nantucket by late afternoon, and about 43,000 people had lost power around Cape Cod and the South Shore, said Peter Judge of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Other areas also had power outages.
High wind warnings were in effect for coastal Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey and the eastern tip of New York's Long Island.
Several roads were closed because of downed tree limbs and flooding.
In Massachusetts, shelters were opened in Sandwich, Hyannis, Dennis and on Nantucket, said Glenn Beasley, executive director of the Cape Cod and Islands chapter of the American Red Cross.
"The good news is that we had warning and people anticipated the storm," Beasley said.
Orla Murphy Lescola, owner of the American Seasons restaurant on Nantucket, said business was down and that it appeared people were hunkering down at home.
"We'd normally have 90 to 100 customers on a normal Saturday and we're doing about half that," she said. "Nobody comes to the island when we have this kind of weather because they are afraid of getting stuck, and we've known about this for a couple days."
The weather service also posted a winter storm watch for northwestern Maine, where rain was expected to change to snow during the night and produce varying accumulations of up to 11 inches. Up to 16 inches could pile up in elevations above 2,000 feet.