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Hurricane Sandy cancels flights, but airports remain open

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 Click on photo to enlarge or download: Tremaine R. Island, 28, takes a call at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Monday. Island, a resident of Macon, Ga., is one of a handful of travelers stranded at the airport. He is scheduled on a flight Tuesday at 3 p.m. SHFWire photo by Emily WilkinsClick on photo to enlarge or download: Tremaine R. Island, 28, takes a call at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Monday. Island, a resident of Macon, Ga., is one of a handful of travelers stranded at the airport. He is scheduled on a flight Tuesday at 3 p.m. SHFWire photo by Emily WilkinsARLINGTON, Va. - For Tremaine Island, his trouble with Hurricane Sandy began when he dropped his only house key into a Metro escalator while on his way to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Sunday morning. The 28-year-old web programmer missed his flight and rescheduled for Monday morning, but missed his flight a second time when the Metro closed. He plans to wait overnight in the airport for a 3 p.m. flight to Atlanta on Tuesday.

“I was hoping a bar was going to be open in the airport,” Island said. He glanced down an empty corridor. “Nope! They shut all that down. It’s a ghost town in here.”

All airlines serving the airport close to downtown Washington and and Dulles International Airport, 30 miles to the northwest, ceased operation on Monday. The last flight left National Airport for Atlanta about 9 a.m., and the last flight at Dulles departed at 1:15 p.m. for Tokyo. All airlines canceled operations because of the hurricane. The airports and their control towers were functional, Rob Yingling, a spokesman with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said, although most shops were closed. A few concession stands remained open.

“It’s too early to say what we will expect what the first airline to begin operating after the storm will be,” Yingling said. “I believe each airline has its own operating standard and minimal for operation purposes.”

The building is well prepared to withstand Sandy’s winds, which had already reached speeds of 90 mph, he said.

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Empty benches were a common sight at midday Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The main hall usually bustles with passengers and airport workers. The last fight left earlier in the morning. SHFWire photo by Emily WilkinsClick on photo to enlarge or download: Empty benches were a common sight at midday Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The main hall usually bustles with passengers and airport workers. The last fight left earlier in the morning. SHFWire photo by Emily WilkinsNot everyone in the airport was working or waiting. Jacob Crisler was using the opportunity to practice his weather man skills.

“Sandy is coming,” he said pointing out the window. “There might be dark clouds. And today and tomorrow there is no school!”

Jacob, 6, and his two siblings, Ellie, 3, and Cameron, 11 months, came to the airport with their mother, Alexandria, Va., resident, Marcy A. Crisler, 34, and their neighbor, Leslie A. Creedon, 45, and her two children to the airport. Creedon, whose husband works at the airport tower, called the space the “biggest indoor dry playground

“We came here for the biggest indoor dry playground,” Creedon said. Besides getting her kids back to school and worrying about a tree on Crisler’s property that hangs over her house, Creedon said she wasn’t too concerned about the storm. The two women spent several hours chasing the kids around the airport and playing hide-and-seek. When the they left, the airport was nearly silent, save recorded announcements discussing regulations on bag size.

Island kept a smile on his face.

“I’m just gonna chill here and relax and soak up the visual of the empty airport,” he said. “You don’t see that too often. It’s kinda freaky.”

Reach reporter Emily Wilkins at emily.wilkins@shns.com or 202-326-9867. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.

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