In 1991 my father was sailing with Newbold Smith aboard Reindeer. They got nearly to Etah, way up in NW Greenland, before being stopped by solid ice. I was joining them in Pond Inlet hoping we could do the Northwest Passage (we couldn't, too much ice). As I was getting ready to fly out of Ottawa I learned that "Bob" was headed for New England and Maine. Both of my sisters were away, so Majek was left alone sitting on her mooring. Unbeknownst to us, one of our neighbors rowed out an extra anchor and added some chafing gear, a gesture which I am thankful for to this day.
In early August 2010 I was tapped to be on a jury later that month. In the back of my mind was the odd thought, 'what if a hurricane comes through.' Sure enough just as the trial got underway Earl started to make noise. As the trial was wrapping up I thought 'no worries, the outcome is obvious, we'll be out of here in no time.' But one person had doubts, and we ended up deliberating three days (!) On the third day I wrote the judge and said my wife hasn't been able to find anyone to help her move our boat from Rockland to a safe anchorage in Vinalhaven. He didn't respond, but did tell the jury to wrap it up that day. That night Lynnie and I raced to the boat and got her out to Southwest Harbor (North Haven) in the nick of time. Of course the next morning it proved to be largely a non event.
In August 2011 I was asked to perform a wedding for a close friend (Notaries can do so in Maine). Sure enough, Irene started to threaten and Lynnie and I had to leave the wedding reception early to get aboard. We had already moved the boat to our preferred hurricane hole, and had three anchors set due to the narrowness of the cove. That too proved to be largely uneventful.
You're correct, though, once they threaten events move quickly and protected harbors fill up fast. We're lucky to be in Maine, we get plenty of warning and the extreme storms have been relatively rare this far north.