COLUMBIA, SC — Hurricane Sandy forced the cancellation of flights from Columbia Metropolitan Airport to several major Northeastern cities on Monday as the powerful Atlantic storm barreled toward the region, bringing swelling tides, heavy rains and driving winds.
Meanwhile, South Carolina utilities began mustering a major mobilization of support to aid the region in the storms expected disastrous aftermath. The storm triggered power outages along the East Coast as early as Monday morning, some reports said.
Flights to Washingtons Reagan National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport, New Yorks LaGuardia International Airport and Philadelphia may not resume until after Wednesday, according to Columbia airport spokeswoman Lynne Douglas.
The airlines involved in the cancellations are Delta, United and US Airways, Douglas said. Those airlines have been canceling flights out of Columbia since Sunday, she said. Those planning to travel this week were urged to check with their airlines continuously for updates, Douglas said.
Even as air travel shut down, South Carolinas electric utilities were sending crews to help heavily affected areas, from Virginia to New Jersey.
SCE&G released 162 contract linemen and 23 tree personnel to help out in Virginia, the utility said on Monday.
S.C. electric cooperatives had sent 108 employees to states being directly impacted by Sandy by Monday afternoon, according to the utilities. Fifteen cooperatives are sending assistance to the region, which already had lost power to more than 115,000 people by then.
This is a major mobilization of personnel on our part, said Todd Carter, vice-president of loss control and training at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. The forecasts all predict the storm is going to cause widespread damage over a very large area. Theres no question our counterparts are going to need a great deal of help once the storm has passed.
The majority of help from the South Carolina cooperatives, which said it serves 1.5 million customers, is being sent to electric cooperatives in Virginia. Crews also have been sent to assist in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Everyone in our industry realizes a storm of this magnitude can do extreme harm to our power distribution systems, Carter said in a statement. Sending this many crews to help restore power is indicative of how serious we think this will be. Given the size of the storm and the number of people in its path, theres no question our counterparts are going to need a great deal of help in the coming days.