East Coast storm delays, strands Chicago travelers

December 20, 2009 6:44:15 AM PST
A massive winter storm is moving up the East Coast, burying some major cities under more than a foot of snow, and causing flight cancellations and delays in Chicago.The storm grounded and delayed a lot of travelers in Chicago trying to get to the East Coast, including the Chicago Bears, who were set to play against the Ravens in Baltimore Sunday.

ABC7 Chicago is told the Bears were able to successful depart on their charter flight at approximately 8 p.m. Saturday, and they arrived in Baltimore a few hours later. Originally, the Bears were supposed to leave Friday to avoid the storm, but a mechanical problem grounded their plane.

A foot of snow had fallen in Baltimore by Saturday night, and it continued to come down. It's all got to be moved before the teams can play Sunday afternoon. The Ravens brought in 700 workers, including 125 jail inmates, to tackle the task of clearing the field, stands and parking lots.

Meanwhile, getting to the East Coast is no easy task.

"When I first got in, they gave me a toothbrush and told me to get comfortable," said stranded traveler Jacob Shirk.

That's what other travelers at O'Hare were trying to do Saturday night.

Lines were fairly shor. Perhaps, most Chicagoans with plans to travel to east simply stayed home. Those seen trying to grab some shut-eye in the terminal were the unlucky ones connecting in Chicago to places like Boston, New York, Baltimore and Washington, DC.

The storm stranded one college student half-way between his school in Kansas and his home in Washington.

"My dorms are closed," said student Nebil Mohammed. "I don't have much money. I don't know what to do."

"I knew I was going to have trouble," said Mike Jenkins. "I was going to try to drive it, but I don't think so."

Jenkins was trying to make it home to Washington DC for his daughter's college graduation Sunday.

"I'll make it one way or another," he said. "I'm deciding now how to get there."

The East Coast blizzard is expected to create a backlog of passengers in the days leading up to Christmas. Some travelers say they have been told it could take two days for them to be rebooked to hard hit areas like Washington.

Approximately 100 flights were cancelled at O'Hare and 50 were cancelled at Midway.

The plan for East Coast airports was to try to resume operations early Sunday.


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