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Oct 14, 6:15 AM EDT

Bermuda seeks quick recovery from Hurricane Nicole's damages

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HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) -- Bermuda's government dispatched crews to clear roads and engineers to inspect infrastructure as the British territory moved to recover quickly from Hurricane Nicole, which battered the island as a Category 3 storm.

The heavy rains and wind dissipated overnight Thursday as many of the island's 65,000 residents ventured outside to assess the damage caused by 115 mph (185 kph) winds.

Authorities, however, urged people to remain indoors for their safety.

"There has been significant flooding in areas around the island and some severe road damages," said National Security Minister Jeff Baron. "Obviously, we are also concerned about downed trees and downed power lines, which are live."

Schools and government offices remained closed on Friday, while the island's international airport is expected to open around noon.

Hurricane Nicole snapped trees, peeled off roofs and flooded homes as it roared across the island on Thursday. The storm also damaged boats that broke away from their moorings and knocked out power to more than 27,000 customers who live on the island, which has sturdy infrastructure and is accustomed to heavy weather.

Forecasters were still trying to determine if heavy winds or tornadoes created by the hurricane were to blame for some of the damage, said James Dodgson, deputy director at the Bermuda Weather Service.

At one point during the hurricane, the wind grew strong enough to fling open a hatch on the weather service's radar, rendering it useless until the hatch could be shut, officials said.

Nicole has strengthened to a Category 4 storm late Wednesday as it approached Bermuda but lost steam overnight.

Although severe storms often affect Bermuda, "a hurricane this strong is rare," the National Hurricane Center said.

The hurricane then weakened to a Category 1 storm as it churned toward the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after pummeling Bermuda. By Friday morning, it was about 675 miles (1,090 kilometers) south-southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with maximum sustained winds near 85 mph (140 kph). The system was moving east-northeast at 21 mph (33 kph).


Associated Press Writer Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

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