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October 28, 2012

Northern New England prepares for big storm

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Despite uncertain forecasts for northern New England, utilities, emergency responders and storm-tested residents took steps Saturday to be ready for a powerful storm as Hurricane Sandy moved up the East Coast.

"I think the general theme is there were so many lessons learned from Irene, the people know how to make storm preparations," said Capt. Chris Gookin of the Vermont National Guard, referring to the tropical storm that devastated much of the state last year. "Preparations have become more or less everyday business, rather than a run on stores."

Throughout the three states, people brought in outdoor furniture, bought supplies and tried to keep up-to-date on the latest track of the storm, knowing it could hit with Irene's ferocity or become a glancing blow when it combines with weather systems moving in from the west and from Canada.

In Maine, lobsterman Greg Griffen of Cape Elizabeth wasn't taking any chances. With the benefit of a long calm before the storm, Griffen said, he spent Friday moving 100 of his traps to deep water from shallower seas, where they are more vulnerable to shifting and damage.

Some weather reports suggested the storm would turn inland south of Cape Cod, easing the blow to northern New England, while other forecasters "said they have never seen a late October hurricane behave like this," Griffen said.

"Some of my competitors have been pulling their traps and taking them right home," he said, adding that the more dire weather predictions "sort of encouraged them to pull the plug on the season."

In New Hampshire, customers were snapping up sand bags and sand, batteries, flashlights and other storm supplies, said Ed Howe, a clerk at Rand's Do It Best Hardware Store in Plymouth. "We sold a couple of generators too."

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