There was nothing to do but wait and worry as Lee spun about 300 miles southeast of Massachusetts.
In Bar Harbor, there were only two lobster boats in the water compared to 20 to 25 boats on a normal day. Lobsterman Bruce Young said his 38-foot vessel was towed to a local airport, saying it was better to be safe than sorry. “Big white rollers come in at 50 to 60 mph. It’s very entertaining,” he said.
On Long Island, commercial lobster fisherman Steve Rail ended up pulling 200 traps out of the water. Train, a fireman, is going to wait out the storm on an island in Casco Bay.
He didn’t care about staying there in the storm. “Not a bit,” he said.
In South Thomaston, Dave Cousins, who lost his fishing gear when Hurricane Bob hit in 1991, said anglers were busy moving their traps to avoid damage from the seabed.
Parts of coastal Maine could see waves as high as 15 feet crashing down, causing erosion and damage, and strong winds could cause power outages, said Lewis Fott, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Maine. Up to 5 inches of rain is forecast for eastern Maine, where a flash flood watch is in effect.
In Canada, Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Canadian Hurricane Center, said Lee will not have anywhere near the intensity of the remnants of Hurricane Fiona. Two provinces and a year ago dragged a woman into the sea.
But it was still a dangerous storm. Kyle Leavitt, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Management Organization, urged residents to stay home, saying “no good can come of checking the big waves and how strong the winds really are.”
Massachusetts Governor Maura Healy joined Maine in declaring a state of emergency and asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to issue a pre-disaster emergency declaration. He activated 50 National Guard members to assist with storm preparations, including piloting high-water vehicles to respond to flooded areas.
The storm’s arrival was expected days after heavy flooding and tornadoes in New England.
“As we’ve seen in recent weeks, severe weather should not be taken lightly. Flooding, wind damage, downed trees, downed trees — all of these create real risks and problems for people,” Healy said.
In East Hampton, New York, swimming is prohibited at beaches due to dangerous surf — and even walking is prohibited in some areas. Caution tape was erected along the sandy edge of the tony second home community’s picturesque Main Beach, where waves were already crashing Friday afternoon.
In Rhode Island, Gov. Dan McKee said groups are working to protect the 11-foot-tall “Freeman” statue atop the State House dome. Workers wanted to protect the 500-pound statue against the storm’s wind and rain, and a drone recently captured footage of the damage to the base.
In Maine, people have become accustomed to damaging winter nor’easters, and some dismiss lee as synonymous with those storms without the snow.
“We fear nor’easters here more than the remnants of a tropical storm,” said Andrea Silverthorne, who works in reception and reservations at an inn in Lubeck, in eastern Maine.
Many tourists were caught in the storm.
Kent Thomas and his wife, Robin, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, kept a close eye on weather reports before heading to Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park. They’re used to big storms back home, so they go with the flow.
“We’re going to be stuck with the wind and the weather like everybody else,” Kent Thomas said as he headed into Bar Harbor. “We have a lot of experience with tropical storms and hurricanes in North Carolina. Power outages and tree damage go with the territory.