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Darrel Nickerson secures a line to his fishing boat Chelsie Rose in Clark's Harbour, Nova Scotia, September 3, 2010. Fishing fleets along coastal communities are taking precautions as Hurricane Earl moves closer to the province. (REUTERS/Paul Darrow/REUTERS/Paul Darrow)
Darrel Nickerson secures a line to his fishing boat Chelsie Rose in Clark's Harbour, Nova Scotia, September 3, 2010. Fishing fleets along coastal communities are taking precautions as Hurricane Earl moves closer to the province. (REUTERS/Paul Darrow/REUTERS/Paul Darrow)

Earl won't budge Nova Scotia residents Add to ...

The road to this little fishing village in southwestern Nova Scotia is almost swallowed every time the tide rolls in.

Water is less than one metre below the pavement at high tide, visible on either side of vehicles heading to the community south of Yarmouth. Storms regularly strew rocks onto the road.

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Although communities all along the province's southwestern coast are bracing for Earl to hit Saturday morning, it is low-lying areas like these that can be expected to bear the worst of it.

It was concern about flooding in Pinkney's Point that prompted the voluntary evacuation warning issued earlier Friday by emergency officials in the area.

"If they don't move, once the storm comes we will not be coming to get them," warned local Emergency Management Office co-ordinator Harold Richardson. "We will not put emergency personnel at risk."

The storm weakened though Friday, downgrading to a tropical storm late in the evening. The storm, which earlier had been a major hurricane, was packing sustained winds of 70 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Centre said.

But people here were unruffled at the warnings, largely ignoring the request to evacuate. Residents of Pinkney's Point make their living from the sea and are used to big storms.

A few people were tidying debris off their properties Friday and the local fleet had been secured. But life otherwise continued as normal. People waved at a stranger driving past and several residents were mowing their lawns. At the general store near the wharf, Jeanette Duncan held court with a cluster of men on folding chairs who nodded as she dismissed the risk.

"I don't think anybody's too concerned," she said. "We've had hurricanes here before and it's never done very much damage."

The calm stems partly from hard-won experience. The benchmark storm around here was back in 1976. It's referred to colloquially as "Groundhog Day" - shorthand for the day it hit.

"That was bad," said Leon Saulnier. His foot propped on a guard-rail, he sipped from a Tim Hortons cup as he watched fog roll in with the surf. "We had to stay in a trailer for a week and a half. That was the only thing we could heat up. We had no power, no road."

He doesn't expect Earl to hit that hard but thinks there will be damage. "I figure we're going to lose our road."



Sea levels remain high throughout the morning Friday , Sept, 3, 2010 as Hurricane Earl lingers offshore of Nags Head, North Carolina

Although weakening, Earl's threat was still strong enough Friday for the Nova Scotia government to close 125 provincial parks. Police warned people to stay away from the coasts and Marine Atlantic suspended ferry routes between Cape Breton and Newfoundland. Many parts of the province were on hurricane watch.

But as projections about the possible severity of Earl lessened, skeptics became increasingly confident they'd dodged the bullet. Although emergency officials continued to prepare for the worst, doubters say they expect no more than a few hours of their weekend to be disrupted.

The lessening punch Earl was now projected to bring was also vindication to organizers of a huge motorcycle rally in Digby, which is expected to peak Saturday with about 25,000 people. Organizers had insisted that the Wharf Rat Rally would continue, in the face of criticism that it should be cancelled for safety reasons.

As night fell Friday, those fears seemed to have subsided.

Dusty Larocque was concerned about sleeping in a tent, but only because she is a self-described "princess." Wearing a skull headband and a button on her shirt telling the world "I don't give a wharf rat's ass about Earl," she explained that she had moved out of the RV so that newcomers could use it.

"I live in Ottawa, what I am doing sleeping in a tent?" she wondered aloud.

The boisterous crowd in the campground echoed with shouts and the throb of motorcycle exhaust pipes. Bad weather seemed a distant concern.

"We got ice, we got beer, we got weed," said one man. "We're set."

With a file from Reuters.

Follow on Twitter: @moore_oliver

 

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