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Hurricane kills at least 2 in Nova Scotia

Juan crashed ashore in Nova Scotia, causing at least two deaths.
Juan crashed ashore in Nova Scotia, causing at least two deaths.

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Hurricane Juan slammed onto the coast of Nova Scotia. (September 29)
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(CNN) -- Hurricane Juan has been blamed for at least two deaths and caused extensive damage since it made landfall late Sunday west of Halifax, Nova Scotia, according to the mayor of Halifax.

Downgraded to a tropical storm at 5 a.m. EDT Monday, Juan gave a taste of the tropics to an area more accustomed to a strong winter nor'easter when it came ashore with 80 mph (130 km/h) winds, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.

The extent of the storm's damage won't be known till later, but Juan knocked down power lines and trees -- which killed two people in separate incidents, said Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly.

The mayor said the dead included "a paramedic who was in an ambulance on standby and a tree fell on top."

"One of his co-workers was also in there, and he is in the hospital at this time. We are also dealing with an injured firefighter, again due to trees," Kelly said.

The storm also caused damage to several buildings.

"There was one apartment complex that did partially collapse, and we did take out 200 individuals from that and put them in the Sportsplex," Kelly said. "We are dealing with a commercial collapse as well, and several hundred people are in shelters."

Kelly described the scene as he stood by Halifax's ferry dock. A lifelong resident of the city, he said he'd never seen a storm like this one.

"There is extensive damage down here, and it's under evaluation," he said. "Several buildings, including the ferry terminal, the docking facilities, the wharfside -- there appears to be some buckling there. It's closed down. It's not safe."

Kelly said most of the damage was wind-related despite Juan's arrival at high tide.

"There was some flooding last night," he said, "but it wasn't too bad."

Juan's winds weren't too bad either, compared with what they might have been. The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale measuring hurricane strength. Not long before, it had been a stronger Category 2 storm, but its power quickly diminished as it crossed over the cooler waters off North America's northeastern coast. Hurricanes are ranked 1 to 5 on the scale.

"Safety is the biggest issue we have," said Margaret Murphy, a spokeswoman with Nova Scotia Power Inc. "Power is out in the downtown area, it's pitch dark, and we have downed power lines everywhere."

The Halifax Regional Municipality declared a state of emergency as the storm approached, shutting down mass transit and closing bridges. All public school classes have been canceled for Monday.

"We're asking the public to stay indoors, even during the day until we can get the hazards removed because the danger is real and present," Murphy said, "mostly caused from fallen tree limbs."

A rapidly dissipating Juan sped off to the north and was swallowed by a low-pressure system. Heavy rain and wind warnings remained in effect for parts of North Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Tropical storms -- or their remnants -- reach Nova Scotia about once a year, although the Canadian Maritime Province rarely gets a direct hit, according to Environment Canada, country's weather service.

In August 1873, a hurricane known as the Great Nova Scotia Cyclone killed 500 people and destroyed 1,200 boats and ships, 900 buildings and dozens of bridges, wharves and dikes, according to the service.

CNN Radio's Ninette Sosa and Brooke Binkowski contributed to this report.

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