MANTEO, North Carolina (AP) — Arthur was downgraded to a tropical storm early Saturday, but its near-hurricane strength winds delivered a powerful hit to Canada's Maritime provinces after brushing past North Carolina's precariously exposed Outer Banks on the Fourth of July, causing far less damage than feared.

In Canada, Nova Scotia Power said 113,000 of its customers were without power late Saturday morning, while the utility in New Brunswick reported almost 100,000 outages by mid-afternoon. NB Power said the largest number of outages was in Fredericton where winds of more than 62 mph (100 kph) knocked down trees.

The storm caused flight cancellations and delays at the region's largest airport in Halifax. Strong winds and heavy rain were expected to continue through Saturday night, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm was about 95 miles (153 kilometers) west-northwest of Halifax on Saturday afternoon. Environment Canada measured wind gusts there topping 72 mph (115 kph). More than 4 inches (11 centimeters) of raid had already fallen on parts of southwestern New Brunswick by Saturday afternoon.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Prince Edward Island said a number of electrical poles had been knocked down by the storm and roads were blocked by downed trees.

Like North Carolina, the northeastern New England states were also largely spared damage spawned by the storm, but some 19,000 people in Maine and 1,600 in Vermont were without power after high winds and heavy rains pounded the region. There were reports of localized flooding in coastal areas of Massachusetts and the Nova Star Ferry suspended service Friday and Saturday morning because of dangerous seas. No injuries or deaths have been reported.

In North Carolina, some homes and businesses were flooded, trees toppled and initially thousands were without electricity after Arthur raced through the barrier islands Friday. Independence Day fireworks were postponed. About 20 feet (six meters) of the fragile road connecting Hatteras Island with the rest of the world buckled and required repairs. The road was being reopened Saturday in stages.

Permanent residents of Hatteras Island began returning Saturday. Employees of businesses that need to get ready to accommodate arriving tourists were also being allowed onto the island that had been closed to arrivals since early Thursday. Officials also tested the two-mile (three-kilometer)-long Bonner Bridge onto the island to ensure it was safe for traffic. The bridge opened at noon to local Hatteras residents and essential workers.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory expressed relief and started encouraging vacationers to return to the beaches.

The storm that struck North Carolina's southern coast late Thursday as a Category 2 hurricane quickly moved north Friday to cloud the skies over the Delaware and New Jersey shores. Rain from Hurricane Arthur disrupted some New York-area Independence Day celebrations but cleared in time for the nation's largest fireworks display in the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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Associated Press reporter Jerome Bailey Jr. contributed to this report.

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Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio.