US Struggles with Clean-up, Travel Delays

New York, Dec 29 (DPA) New Yorkers were Tuesday struggling to cope with the aftermath of one of the biggest snow storms to hit the region, severely hampering public transportation and leaving thousands without power.

The estimated 60 cm of snow that piled up over the weekend forced the cancellation of 4,500 flights in the New York region's major international airports and left thousands of travellers stranded.

While the Federal Aviation Administration said late Monday that Boston's Logan airport had reopened, arriving flights at Philadelphia airport had delays of two hours or more.

The storm whipped through the Northeast from Sunday to Monday, stranding tens of thousands of travellers trying to return home after the Christmas holiday. Elizabeth, New Jersey, just south of Newark, was covered by 81 cm of snow.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it would take up to three days before flights would return to normal schedules.

The backlog of cancelled and accumulated flights since Sunday could mean that many travellers might be stranded through the New Year, news reports said Tuesday.

The New York Times reported that many US domestic flights resumed only Tuesday and international flights were limited.

"We have arrivals, we have departures, but we're still looking at a lot of cancellations," Steve Coleman, a Port Authority spokesman, said. "It could take days to clear because you had two days of no flights."

Authorities at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport said at least 1,400 passengers would have to spend the night at the airport.

Adding to the woes of cancelled flights and the paucity of airplanes, ground transportation to and from the three main airports around New York remained limited because of the slow clean-up operations.

Getting in and around the city of more than eight million inhabitants remained difficult because of reduced subway and bus services, and with many streets still clogged with snow. Central Park and Manhattan received 60 cm of snow while the city's other boroughs got more.

"Is it better or worse, depends on where you happen to be," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said late Monday after touring the five boroughs.

"On balance, I think you'll find we kept the city safe and we're cleaning it and when we get done, it'll probably take the same amount of time that any storm of this magnitude with a lot of winds would have taken," said Bloomberg. "If they get to your street quicker, you're happier."

Meanwhile, New York Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty urged New Yorkers to be patient as crews work to clear more than 9,600 km of pavements.

"A lot will depend on how much people cooperate and that's a good point. I mean if people dig out and they don't plow the snow in the street again when they plow their car or their driveway, it's going to go quicker," Doherty said.


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