A worker attempts to remove water following a water main break in the arrivals area of Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, U.S. January 7, 2018. (Reuters)
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NEW YORK – Caribbean nationals are among scores of passengers that are expecting long delays after John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York tries to “dig out” from last Thursday's winter storm.
Scores of rescheduled flights, damaged equipment and other lingering effects of the winter storm have combined to create long delays for passengers at JFK and forced US federal officials to limit some flights into the airport on the weekend.
Adeola Dorris just wanted to go home to Guyana, but, instead, she was standing among other stranded passengers amid stacks and stacks of luggage at JFK Sunday afternoon.
Dorris, 40, an accountant who arrived at the airport Saturday night, had no idea when her connecting flight would leave.
“When the flight was suspended, I literally cried,” she said. “Because I'm here alone, and I have nowhere to go. And you can't tell me when I'm going to get home. And I have to work tomorrow.”
On Sunday, JFK remained in disarray – three days after New York City's first major snowstorm of 2018 disrupted operations.
Since the storm, a lingering, bone-chilling cold and a series of missteps have contributed to a logjam that has left thousands of travellers stranded and caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled or diverted.
As a result, the disorder at JFK, one of the world's busiest airports, rippled across the world, affecting passengers as far away as Beijing.
Flights headed to New York were forced to turn back, and connecting flights that were only supposed to bring passengers to New York for a brief stay were grounded indefinitely.
On Sunday, just as there were signs that things were finally improving, a water main break in a terminal plunged the airport back into chaos – flooding sections of Terminal 4 .
This compounded the confusion that had gripped parts of JFK all weekend, as airlines tried to rebound from the cancellation of thousands of flights because of the storm.
Officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates JFK, were still trying to sort out what had gone wrong on Saturday when they had to scramble on Sunday to cope with the burst pipe.
Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority, said that he was ordering an investigation of the water main break and the continuing flight problems.
He emphasised that the terminal with the flooding was operated by a private company, not the Port Authority.
For the second day in a row, the Port Authority had to ask US federal aviation officials to block some international flights from landing at JFK, the Times said.
It said that order would add to the two dozen flights that had been diverted to other airports since Saturday.
The protracted chaos at JFK drew harsh condemnation from US Senator Chuck Schumer, who called for “a thorough review” of the airport and the Port Authority to find out what went wrong, especially since Thursday's storm had not come as a surprise.
“They should have been way better prepared, plain and simple,” he said. “JFK has to follow the Boy Scouts' motto: 'Be prepared.' They weren't.” (CMC)