SARASOTA - As the Northeast braces for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, some travelers on the Suncoast are already feeling the effects of the storm.
There were a lot of local sports events over the weekend, and many of competitors and spectators who came to town for events got stuck here when their flights were cancelled due to the storm. But at least most of those people got the word before they got to the airport, so they aren't stuck hanging around there.
"JetBlue has canceled all their operations from New York and Boston into SRQ today, so we are looking at about four flights. U.S. Airways, the only thing they have canceled so far is their flight up to Washington," says Michael Walley at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ).
And at the Tampa airport, most flights to Northeastern cities near the path of the storm are canceled or delayed.
Hurricane Sandy also wrecked the plans of the Sarasota County Visitor’s Bureau. They were set to introduce a new campaign called "Sarasota In Shorts" in New York Monday. “Today we were taking over Terminal 5 at JFK Airport…bringing out the brass quintet from the Sarasota Orchestra and other partners from Sarasota County, and of course all our flights have been canceled from last night or this morning,” says Erin Duggan of the visitor’s bureau.
The Sarasota Chalk Festival is just getting underway. Last year it drew 200,000 people. Founder Denise Kowal says the hurricane is causing some problems. “We have several artists we are restructuring flights, coming in from Europe and Japan and New York, all the New England states. So we're seeing what we can do that way.”
And she says due to the windy conditions, they haven't been able to put up many tents and stages and equipment for the circus performers.
And it's also affecting the chalk artists. "When it is real windy, all the artists have a hard time with the chalk, because as soon as they wipe the chalk on the street it blows away in the wind. So they're having to use water more to keep the weight of the chalk down on the pavement," says Kowal.
But the main part of the Chalk Festival is not until this weekend, and the people we've talked to Monday expect Hurricane Sandy's affects here on the Suncoast to be long gone by then.
At SRQ, Walley says the airlines tell him that they expect things to be back to normal by Wednesday. Just be sure to call your airline and check it out before you head out to the airport.