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Residents praised for taking Earl seriously

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Building back: a Belco team at work in Devonshire after a transformer exploded this afternoon (Photograph by Colin Thompson)

Residents were commended for taking Hurricane Earl “seriously” despite the season’s first major storm being a near miss.

Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, said the storm had brushed past Bermuda without “major incident”.

He added: "I'm incredibly grateful to all residents who heeded our messages of preparation, including those who trimmed their trees to ensure the clean-up effort would not be unnecessarily hampered.

"We have been informed that there was an uptick in residents disposing of horticultural waste at the Marsh Folly facility in the lead-up to Hurricane Earl's arrival.

“This reaction shows that residents took this storm seriously, and for that I am thankful.”

He praised emergency services, government work crews and staff from Belco for vigilance overnight and their work cleaning up.

Mr Weeks also warned that Bermuda “remains in the throes of an active hurricane season” and urged residents to keep vigilant.

As of noon, a final 129 homes across the island remained without power.

Belco reported lingering outages in Devonshire, Pembroke, Warwick and Sandys.

But the lights went out for 1,500 people at the height of Hurricane Earl last night, a spokesman said.

The Category 2 storm was 255 miles northeast of Bermuda by noon and moving north-northeast at 22mph, with winds of almost 100mph, according to the Bermuda Weather Service.

The Belco spokesman warned that brief outages might come with the utility’s restoration efforts, as crews switched off circuits to safely carry out repairs.

Belco teams would remain on the job until full restoration of electricity.

By 3.30pm, the company’s website showed power largely restored — although an area of Devonshire was showing a handful of customers without power.

Belco workers survey the aftermath of an apparent transformer explosion on Watlington Road West in Devonshire (Photograph by Colin Thompson)

Watlington Road West was blocked off after what appeared to be a transformer explosion sent debris into the road.

The Belco spokesman added that while the island saw no large-scale damage, tropical storm force winds knocked out power in “pockets“ — mostly because of trees and foliage falling on power lines.

During Earl’s passage, the National Museum of Bermuda in Dockyard recorded a peak wind of 58mph, and a peak gust of 67mph.

Wayne Caines, president of Belco, said Bermuda was “fortunate” to have escaped the worst.

“Thankfully we received minimal damage to our infrastructure and restoration efforts have been progressing well,” he said.

Belco staff restoring power in the wake of Hurricane Earl’s close call on Bermuda (Photograph by Colin Thompson)

He thanked workers, along with the public, for their patience and reminded residents to make sure trees on their property were trimmed to a minimum of 10ft from power lines.

He said anyone cutting back foliage should call Belco at 295-5111 to schedule a power shutdown for tree trimming — but to make the call three weeks in advance to allow time.

Mr Caines said Belco’s website had hurricane safety tips and advice.

Hurricane season does not officially end until November 31.

No hurricane issues for island’s hotels

Bermuda’s hotels and resorts escaped damage or disruption as a result of Hurricane Earl.

Hotels from east to west made checks to their property this morning and were thankful of the storm’s uneventful passing.

Laura Purroy, general manager at Hotelco Bermuda Holding, said: “We had zero damage at both the St George’s Club and the St Regis thankfully. There was just a lot of rain and wind. We had a team up at 6am and everything was fine.”

The maintenance manager at The Loren confirmed there had been no damage at the east end property.

A spokeswoman for Azura said: “Everything is good. There are no concerns.”

Cambridge Beaches in the West End was also unaffected.

Motorists were urged to be cautious today despite roads being given the “all clear” after the storm passed the island.

This morning Mr Weeks declared that public services were operating as normal.

He added: "I hope that all of Bermuda fared safe and well.

“Following the passage of Hurricane Earl, our Emergency Measures Organisation utility and work crews have done their assessments.

“As it relates to our roadways, they have been given the all clear.

“Commuters and motorists can move about the island. However, I encourage extreme caution as you travel on our roadways.”

Mr Weeks added: “Teams have also surveyed the bus routes to ensure safety before resuming public bus service.”

Bus service restarted at 9am.

Mr Weeks said: “Government buildings have also been assessed. They have been deemed safe also and public services will be operating as normal.

“We will provide additional official updates as the morning progresses.”

The Department of Marine and Ports Services this afternoon updated the ferry schedule.

A spokeswoman said that service resumed on the Blue Route at 1.30pm from Hamilton, with the Pink Route due to start from the city at 3.45pm.

The Green route is expected to resume from Hamilton at 4.10pm.

Weather conditions that helped to nudge Hurricane Earl away from Bermuda should linger, according to the Bermuda Weather Service.

Michelle Pitcher, the weather service’s acting director, said on the eve of Hurricane Earl’s approach: “There is another weather area that the National Hurricane Centre has been monitoring to our southeast.

“But until it’s been named, we really don’t have much information on it.”

The system in question, heading west from the central Atlantic, was downgraded by the NHC.

Ms Pitcher added: “I can say that the same mechanism that is helping Earl to turn to the northeast and away from our area will also remain in place in our area to help drive any further storms off to our east, at this point in time.”

In a detailed breakdown of the storm, the BWS reported the “core of hurricane Earl grazed the extreme eastern parts of the marine area” as it passed by.

Airport winds ranged 30mph to 40mph, with “frequent“ gusts as strong as 50mph.

• UPDATE: This story has been updated with more information from the Bermuda Weather Service.

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Published September 10, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated September 10, 2022 at 7:57 am)

Residents praised for taking Earl seriously

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