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On Cape Cod, ‘we got lucky’

CHATHAM — The day on Cape Cod alternated between clouds, light rain, and bright sun, but the weather was mild. It was the day after Sandy.

In West Dennis, Norman Bacon dangled a leisurely line off the Loring Avenue bridge into the Weir River, a salt water tributary, and caught two striped bass, bringing his count to 218 on the season.

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“I thought the Cape fared very well considering the category of the storm. The islands took more of a beating than the mainland,” said Bacon, at 69 a self-described “old Cape Codder,” standing above waters 6 or 7 feet higher than normal, between the storm and a full-moon tide.

Bacon, a retired highway worker and fire spotter, said some beaches suffered erosion from the outer bands of the hurricane, but few homeowners suffered anything other than temporary loss of power. “We could have had it much more severe,” he said.

On Chatham’s bucolic Main Street, shopkeepers were open for business as usual, nearly all the plywood removed from windows by noon Tuesday.

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“We got lucky. Dodged a bullet,” said Joe Nickerson, a Chatham landscaper, sweeping the front stoop of his wife’s clothing and gift boutique, Pentimento, thankful the worst of the storm veered away from the Cape. And the preparation paid off, he said. “Everybody got their boats out, their windows boarded.”

His wife, Suzy, said nobody wanted to take chances. “When it says ‘hurricane,’ you pay attention,” she said.

Down at Lighthouse Beach, Brewster house painter Keith Bond tried to make a go of it with his kiteboard — a wakeboard at the end of a giant kite — but couldn’t pick up enough wind, coming back to shore after about 20 minutes.

“We were praying for the back side of this storm to at least have some potency,” Bond said, sitting in the sand in his wetsuit, flying the kite in a light breeze with the board detached. “When I first got here, it was about 15 to 25 miles an hour, and then all of a sudden it just slowly dropped and the sun came out.”

Bond, whose home sustained no damage, was in no rush to leave the sand, less than 24 hours removed from driving rain and gusts exceeding 70 miles per hour on parts of the Cape. “We’ve probably got a 5 to 10 mile an hour breeze going right now, which is not enough for [this] sport,” he said. “I’m hoping it will pick up and I can enjoy the rest of the day, then back to work tomorrow.”

On most roads, the debris was light — a carpet of windblown leaves and pine needles, occasional branches — and the travel was largely normal. Route 28 remained closed because of flood damage along about a mile stretch on the Lower Cape. State and local officials closed that road for about a half a mile in each direction of the intersection with South Orleans’s Tar Kiln Road, from Pleasant Bay Road in Harwich — opposite the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club — to Cross Road in Orleans.

The waters of Pleasant Bay had swamped Route 28 at the road’s low point, and scattered trees had fallen. At the home nearest the flooding, the water sluiced into the courtyard and overpowered pumps in the basement of the main house and the finished boathouse, running to a shin-high mark on the first floor, visible in the line of dirt and silt left behind.

That was the first time Marty Leonard, 75, had seen that. “I’ve seen a storm where it washed across here, but you had enough pumps to take care of the water. But not this storm,” said Leonard, an Orleans resident, standing in the home’s courtyard. Just beyond him, the open door of the boathouse revealed a soggy carpet strewn with leaves and pine needles; above it, dry couches hung from the ceiling, hoisted out of harm’s way by a system of belts.

“We fared better than New Jersey or New York, so I’m not complaining. I’m just the caretaker here, so my work is going to be pretty hectic for a while,” said Leonard, who looks after the home in the off-season.

Outside the house on Route 28, an NStar crew had just finished installing a hefty new utility pole to brace an old one that had buckled and splintered in the storm.

“Hopefully, if we get through this tide without flooding again, then we’re all set,” Leonard said. “The worst is over.”

Eric Moskowitz can be reached at emoskowitz@globe.com.
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