Those left unscathed amused themselves

August 29, 2011

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Bill Maradei, head football coach at Austin Prep in Reading, had his whistle around his neck yesterday but nowhere to practice. His 52-player team, which had been staying on Cape Cod for its annual preseason camp, instead found itself on cots at a shelter at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School.

“You know what this is?’’ asked Maradei, who has been head coach at Austin Prep for 19 years, including in 2009, when his team won the Division 3A Super Bowl. “It’s an adventure. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to do this.’’

The team had been sleeping in cabins at Camp Wingate Kirkland in Yarmouth Port. But concerns about falling trees prompted an evacuation Saturday to the shelter, where the players and eight coaches joined 15 other people and three pets.

Although Hurricane Irene had weakened to a tropical storm, Maradei did not second-guess his decision. “The kids are safer here than anywhere else,’’ the coach declared, as several of his players watched news of the weather on a television in the school auditorium.

Maradei was determined to make the most of the day, weather or not. The players would stretch in the cafeteria, and, after the rain, walk through their formations in the parking lot, he said.

“We want to get back in action,’’ the coach said. And last night, he mused, maybe the team would watch a video of their Super Bowl triumph.

— Brian MacQuarrie

In Orleans, it was flocking to, not fleeing, the beach Except for the towering surf, the noon scene at Nauset Beach in Orleans could have been quintessential summer - wide sands, cavorting children, beaming parents, and bright sunshine.

Instead of driving people from the beach, Irene seemed to exert a reverse effect.

Families and curiosity-seekers braved stinging windblown sand to walk the shore and marvel at cascading, rolling waves that reached 15 to 20 feet high.

“This is spectacular,’’ said Mark Spengler, whose family had returned to their Arlington residence while he stayed behind to watch the storm. “The rest of the Eastern Seaboard is getting this battering storm while we’re enjoying the ocean.’’

While he spoke, a seal struggled in the surf to make its way north along the beach.

“I stayed here just for this,’’ Spengler said. “This is what meteorologists live for - this and snowstorms.’’

Spengler would know. His father, Kenneth, was executive director of the American Meteorological Society for four decades.

— Brian MacQuarrie

Tourists from a soggy land cope with Hub drenching At 10:30 a.m. on Arlington Street in Boston, tourists Mike and Kay West of London ducked into a doorway to look at a map of the city. The couple, who arrived Friday night, had just dined on pancakes and granola at the Paramount on Charles Street.

“We had read in a guidebook that it was a good place for breakfast,’’ said Mike, 65, a vice president of a satellite company. “We were glad to find it open.’’

The couple knew the threat of the storm, but still was surprised by the heavy rain over the weekend. “We’re used to it raining in London,’’ said Mike. “But we never get rain like this.’’

On Saturday, the couple walked the Freedom Trail until they were caught on Beacon Hill in a late afternoon downpour. “After that we just hid in our hotel,’’ said Kay, 64, who is retired.

— Kathy McCabe

In Plymouth, some were left ‘a little disappointed’ On Manomet Point in Plymouth, storm watchers on foot and in cars clogged the narrow road along the ocean as high tide approached. Parking was scarce at the easternmost edge of the bluff, where the view stretches south to Cape Cod, as spectators with cameras braved the howling winds and flying sand to take a look.

“For all the hype, I’m a little disappointed,’’ said Kiersten Adam, 26, of Somerville.

Timothy Sullivan, 30, of Plymouth brought his 4-month-old black Labrador puppy, Maeve, to see her first hurricane. He said he was not worried about damage from the storm.

“The only thing I’m concerned about is my laundry getting done so I can go out to a bar tonight,’’ he said.

Inside the adjacent Sea Cliff Lobster Corp., a small, gray-shingled building at the end of Manomet Point, owner Frank Collins had more serious concerns. He said two-thirds of his electrical system had failed, leaving him with some 10,000 pounds of live lobsters and no way to pump water into their holding tanks.

He had gone out looking for an NStar truck to flag down, but found none. “My fear is that they’ve sent all the trucks to other parts of the state,’’ said Collins.

Lobsterman Peter Klemme left his boat, the Krystal Marie, in the water, but kept watch over the vessel from the edge of Plymouth Harbor.

“We’re smiling,’’ he said of the storm’s diminished force.

— Jenna Russell

In Adamsville, R.I., time stood still at general store The hands on the old Winston Cigarette clock in Grayton Waite’s general store in Adamsville, R.I., froze at 9:55 yesterday morning when the area lost power. Still, Waite thought it important to keep Gray’s, America’s oldest general store, open through the storm.

“My family has owned this place since 1879,’’ he said in an interview inside the dark store, which itself dates back to 1788. “I’m not going to not open because of a little wind.’’

Business was a little slow.

— Mark Arsenault