Hurricane Sandy scraps dozens of flights in the Valley, 7,000+ nationwide

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PHOENIX and EAST COAST -- Hurricane Sandy is churning its way up the East Coast causing massive interruptions in air travel across the country.  Flight cancellations and air traffic suspensions at some of the nation’s busiest airports back East are affecting flights in the Valley.

Eighteen flights were grounded out of Sky Harbor International Airport on Sunday, with the wings clipped on another 26 flights, originally slated for takeoff on Monday.

“I had answering machine messages all day telling me my flights were all canceled,” said Marla Espozito, who’s trying to get home to Rochester, NY.  “Tried to get flights with U.S. Air.  They couldn’t get me home until Wednesday.”

So far, Sandy is blamed for at least 67 deaths in the Caribbean.  Officials in New York have evacuated 375,000 people out of low-lying areas in anticipation of the storm making landfall.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama declared States of Emergency in Washington,D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.  FEMA estimates say Sandy could cause between $2.5 and $3 billion in wind damage alone in the U.S.

Hurricane Sandy’s domination of the Eastern Seaboard has already sparked mass transit closures in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. that will strand nearly 11 million commuters on Monday. Across the nation, more than 7,000 flights have been canceled.  The hardest hit airports are in Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C.

“We came here for a wedding and we’re supposed to fly out tomorrow morning and it’s canceled,” said Phylis Capro.  “We were going into Washington, D.C.”

There are also 30 flights into Sky Harbor canceled for Monday.

Nationally, United has by far the most flight cancellations.  Delta, JetBlue and U.S. Airways are second, third and fourth, all dropping about 550 flights across the country on Monday.