Isabel batters ports, airlines

Isabel batters ports, airlines

Airlines and airports began resuming service Friday in areas devastated by Hurricane Isabel, but operations were far from normal in parts of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and other states.

Baltimore Washington International Airport, Dulles International Airport and Reagan National Airport all re-opened Friday, but cautioned that operations would be limited and airlines would be operating with reduced schedules.

By mid-afternoon Friday USAirways was fully functional at all airports, according to spokesman David Castelveter. Reagan and Richmond re-opened at noon and Norfolk at 2 p.m. "We should be back to normal operations tomorrow," he said.

About 5,700 flights at 20 airports were canceled Thursday.

FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service both said they were operating normal flight schedules, but acknowledged that they were having difficulties with pickups and deliveries in towns and cities where streets were closed because of flooding, downed power lines and fallen trees. Pickups and deliveries were also hampered by the closure of many businesses and government offices. All government offices in Washington, for example, remained closed for a second consecutive day.

"If a city's open, we're making deliveries," said UPS spokesman Mark Giuffre. "We're picking up where we left off."

FedEx canceled its flights Thursday night to Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington. Cargo destined for Raleigh-Durham, N.C., was diverted to Charlotte and trucked from there.

UPS diverted much of the cargo destined for mid-Atlantic states to its hub in Louisville.

The U.S. Postal Service planned to make deliveries in the affected areas as long as roads were passable and the flooding had receded.

"We are committed to keeping the mail moving following blizzards, earthquakes, tornados, blackouts or any other disasters," said David Fields, the Postal Service's manager for the Greensboro District, which includes the Outer Banks along with the northern half of North Carolina. "Hurricane Isabel and the floods she brought are not an exception."

The North Carolina ports of Wilmington and Morehead City re-opened Friday after closing Thursday ahead of the storm.

The Port of Morehead City sustained minimal damage from the hurricane, and re-opened at 10 a.m. With no reports of damage, the Port of Wilmington opened its gates to commercial traffic at 8 a.m.

The Port of Virginia has reopened, and plans to begin vessel operations at 7 p.m. Friday, despite some lingering power problems. The port will be open to receive cargo on Saturday from 8-12 a.m. and from 1-5 p.m.

Virginia Inland Port remains closed.

The Port of Baltimore also remained closed Friday after the hurricane flooded the downtown and Inner Harbor area. It will resume normal operations Monday, according to Maryland Port Administration spokesman Richard Berkow.