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Sat, Sep 20, 2003

Isabel Smacks Aviation

Hurricane Plays Havoc With Commercial, Charter And GA Flights

The FAA is scrambling to get the nation's air traffic system back in order after a much-weakened but still potent Hurricane Isabel ground ashore Thursday. The storm shut down airports from Raleigh (NC) to San Francisco (CA) in a ripple effect that was still very much in play on Friday.

"I get the sense we're going to be doing a lot better today than yesterday, but we're still going to be seeing the ripple effects of this throughout the country," Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said Friday morning. More than 5,700 flights were cancelled Thursday because of the storm. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta said some 20 airports were affected.

Reagan National Airport was closed after flooding and hurricane-driven debris littered the runway. Baltimore Washington International was shut down for the worst of the storm. It's reopening was delayed even further because of the massive power outages that accompanied the storm.

"Our message is: Don't come to the airport without checking with your airline first," said Tara Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

So how do you get from here to there? Don't look at Amtrak. Trains were shut down from Chicago to Miami and at all points in between as officials checked the rails for storm damage.

FMI: www.nhc.noaa.gov

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