Hurricane Juan Hits Canada's Coast, Killing Responding Paramedic

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) -- Hurricane Juan lashed Nova Scotia with winds and torrential rains, killing two people and knocking out power to thousands before being downgraded to a tropical storm early Monday as it churned toward Prince Edward Island.

Voting proceeded as scheduled in Prince Edward Island's provincial election Monday, despite some areas being without power because of the storm.

Farther south in the Atlantic, meanwhile, Tropical Storm Kate neared hurricane strength Monday as it swirled far from land - about 835 miles southwest of Lajes in the Azores Islands. Kate had maximum sustained winds near 70 mph - 4 mph short of hurricane strength - and was moving toward the northeast at around 20 mph.

Hundreds of Nova Scotia residents were evacuated from low-lying areas and residents were warned to stay indoors Monday because falling trees had knocked down a ``terrific'' number of still-live power lines.

Halifax, the largest city on Canada's east coast, received the brunt of Juan's punch with wind speeds reaching 89 mph early Monday.

``It was quite a fantastic event,'' said Carolyn Marshall, spokeswoman at Canada's Hurricane Center in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Two deaths were blamed on the storm _ both of them drivers killed when trees fell on their vehicles. One was an ambulance driver responding to a call near the Camp Hill Hospital in Halifax, officials said.

In nearby Dartmouth, fierce winds tore off an apartment building's roof and knocked down a wall in a hallway, firefighters said. Police dug through the rubble but reported no injuries.

``We're not sure how stable it is and we're not taking any chances,'' said district fire chief Tim Bookholt. ``It's been a busy night. I hope the worst of it is over.''

At least 200 residents were evacuated from the four-story building - many of them seniors - and bused to a hockey arena serving as a temporary shelter.

In Halifax, the swirling storm system knocked out power to significant areas as downed tree limbs cartwheeled through city streets and damaged cars.

The exact number of people left without electricity wasn't known early Monday, but it was ``in the thousands,'' said Margaret Murphy, a spokeswoman for Nova Scotia Power.

Audrey Russell, from the coastal town of Eastern Passage, grabbed a tooth brush, toothpaste, her cat and some clothes and then headed for refuge in a nearby firehall.

``I was kind of worried, so I didn't want to stay around too long,'' Russell said.

Juan was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane Sunday and had lost some of its ferocity by the time it reached cooler waters off Nova Scotia. A Category 1 hurricane has winds ranging from 74 to 95 mph.

Boaters in nearby Lunenburg hauled about 40 yachts off the town's marina while wearily keeping an eye on the skies.

``We're Nova Scotians. We're used to dealing with these sorts of things,'' said Jim Mosher of the Lunenburg Yacht Club.

In 1996, when Hurricane Hortense brushed past Halifax, the storm surge topped three feet, and winds uprooted trees and left tens of thousands without power. Tropical storms routinely soak Atlantic Canada each summer and autumn, but a full-fledged hurricane making landfall is rare.

Juan arrived a week after Hurricane Isabel hit the U.S. coast, killing 40 people from North Carolina to New Jersey and knocking out electrical service to 6 million customers as far north as New York.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.