Charleston Port Reopens as Florence Passes, But Flooding to Worsen

Coast Guard Road leading to the south end of Emerald Isle is seen after Hurricane Florence hit Emerald Isle, NC. // Photo by AP Photo/Tom Copeland via Newscred

The cruise port in Charleston has reopened and flights are returning to normal after the passage of Hurricane Florence, but severe flooding is expected to persist in the southeastern United States over the next few days.

According to the South Carolina Ports Authority, normal operations at the cruise terminal in Charleston have resumed. A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Line tells Travel Agent that the Carnival Ecstasy returned to the port and departed as scheduled on Sunday. 

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean reports that the Grandeur of the Seas arrived in Baltimore Sunday evening. The ship is now scheduled to depart Monday at 2 p.m. on a revised itinerary that will see it arrive and overnight in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Wednesday, set sail on Thursday and arrive back in Baltimore on Saturday. 

Additionally, Charlotte’s airport – a major hub for American Airlines – remained open throughout the storm, although a number of flights were cancelled or delayed. In their latest update airport officials report that airlines were beginning to resume normal schedules as of Sunday afternoon, although some delays in departures and arrivals are expected to persist.

According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, Florence has been downgraded to a tropical depression, with maximum sustained winds near 30 mph. The storm is expected to produce heavy rainfall over the next couple of days, leading to flash flood warnings for a large portion of southern and western North Carolina, portions of far northeast South Carolina and southwest Virginia. Flash flood watches are also in effect across much of North Carolina, northern South Carolina, portions of western Virginia, southern and eastern West Virginia, central and western Maryland, central and western Pennsylvania, southern New York and southern New England.

CNBC reports that at least 17 people have died due to the storm, as the heavy rains have caused river levels in North and South Carolina to rise to historic levels. The flooding could continue to worsen over the next few days, as the saturated ground will be unable to absorb further rainfall, pushing river levels even higher.

Air Travel Change Waivers and Updates

A number of airline change waivers are still in effect due to the storm. 

American Airlines warns that Hurricane Florence will disrupt travel through its Charlotte hub, as well as other airports in the southeastern United States. Customers set to fly through September 17 can rebook through September 21 and/or change their origin or destination to another city affected by the airline's alert or to Baltimore, Washington - Reagan or Washington - Dulles. Customers can also rebook after September 21, so long as rebooked travel is completed wtihin one year of the ticket date. A difference in fare may apply. 

American is also waiving fees for checked bags, overweight/oversized bags and carry-on pets for customers traveling on or before September 17 from airports set to be affected by the hurricane. 

Delta is allowing customers set to fly through September 17 to rebook through September 21, with rebooked travel to begin no later than that date. When rescheduled travel occurs beyond September 21, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply. The airline is also waiving checked bag and pet fees for affected customers. 

On United Airlines, customers flying through the southeastern United States through September 17 can rebook through September 23 between the same city pair in the originally ticketed cabin. They can also rebook after September 23, or change their departure or destination city, in which case the change fee will be waived but a difference in fare may apply. The airline is also waiving fees for bags and in-cabin pets for flights through affected airports through September 17. Customers who have already paid a fee will be automatically issued a refund. 

Southwest Airlines is allowing customers flying through the Baltimore - Washington DC area through September 17, and through Charleston, Charlotte and Raleigh - Durham through September 19, to rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date of travel.

On JetBlue, travelers scheduled to fly through the southeastern United States through September 17 can rebook through September 21.

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