ST JOHN‘S, Newfoundland (Reuters) - Hurricane Bill weakened to post-tropical storm status on Monday after lashing Eastern Canada with heavy winds and rain and pounding the U.S. East Coast with heavy seas that killed two people.
The storm is expected to gradually peter out as it moves through the cold waters in the oil-producing region of the North Atlantic.
A seven-year-old girl died in a hospital late Sunday after she was pulled unresponsive from the sea by the Coast Guard after a group of people were swept away by a huge wave along the coast of Maine, a Coast Guard spokesman said.
The group had been watching the rough seas and heavy surf from Maine’s Acadia National Park, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Third Class James Rhodes.
Environment Canada said on Monday Bill had been downgraded to tropical storm status after drenching Newfoundland, the country’s easternmost province.
Atlantic Canada is an energy-producing region, exporting oil, natural gas and refined products to the U.S. Northeast and elsewhere.
Power was being restored to some of the 40,000 homes and businesses that had their power knocked out by the storm in southern Nova Scotia. The storm felled trees but did little serious damage to the provincial capital of Halifax.
No deaths or injuries have been reported in Canada.
”We’re not seeing any severe damage,“ said Michelle Perry, a spokeswoman for Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office. ”We are seeing things like washed out roads and power outages.
Bill, the first hurricane of the 2009 season, dumped rain on Bermuda and pushed powerful surf onto the shores of the 20-square-mile (52-sq-km) British territory, a center for the global insurance industry.
It also brought heavy surf, swells and rain to the U.S. Atlantic seaboard, including the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where President Barack Obama and his family were vacationing.
In Central Florida, Volusia County Beach Patrol officials blamed waves generated by Bill for the drowning on Saturday of a 54-year-old Orlando man near New Smyrna Beach, local media reported. The man washed ashore unconscious after swimming out to bodysurf in rough waves.
In Canada, the Sable Offshore Gas Project, off Nova Scotia, evacuated staff, but the operator of the massive 98,200 barrel per day Hibernia platform off Newfoundland said it would continue to operate normally.
Both Sable and Hibernia, a platform built to withstand the icebergs common in the region, are operated by Exxon Mobil Corp. An iceberg sank the Titanic off the coast of Nova Scotia and some 150 of the ship’s victims are buried in Halifax.
Other oil projects in the Jeanne d‘Arc basin about 185 miles southeast of St. John‘s, Newfoundland, plan to weather the storm and have not moved employees to land.
“We’re keeping an eye on the storm, but it’s business as usual,” said Brad Bellows, a spokesman for Suncor Energy Inc which operates the Terra Nova oil project.
Additional reporting by Laura MacInnis in Halifax, Scott Malone in Boston, Pascal Fletcher in Miami and Anthony Boadle in Washington; editing by Chris Wilson