CHICAGO (CBS) — Now that Irma has moved out of Florida, airlines have resumed flights to the Sunshine State, as the repair and recovery process gets underway.
The first commercial flight back to Miami from O’Hare International Airport left early Tuesday.
Monday night, American Airlines sent two other flights to Miami, one from Dallas and the other from O’Hare. Both were loaded with supplies, and dozens of airline crew members and TSA workers needed to restart operations at the nation’s 14th busiest airport.
American Airlines controls close to 40 percent of the air traffic into the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area, so getting their operations back up and running is an important first step towards normalcy.
Many of the airport’s staffers suffered property damage at their homes during the storm, so American was sending extra crew to run the airport while its Miami team tends to their own properties.
The airport itself also was heavily damaged by Hurricane Irma when it hit Florida on Sunday, so it will be a while before operations are back to normal.
Some sections of the roof were ripped away, parts of the air conditioning system was damaged, and the storm left standing water in the airport. Some sections were still closed on Tuesday.
Despite that damage, a limited number of flights was leaving for Miami on Tuesday, including Flight 233 from O’Hare, which was carrying some Floridians who evacuated ahead of the storm, and were heading back to assess the damage Irma caused.
“I know one of my friend’s houses had a tree fall through it, so I’m just kind of nervous to see everyone else’s damage, because I had friends go check our house. So I’m just thankful everyone’s okay,” said Valeria Buitano, of Miami.
William Chewning, of Miami Beach, said “now it’s pick up the pieces, and get back to day-to-day normal life.
Miami International Airport was one of six Florida airports reopening on Tuesday, albeit on a limited schedule while repairs and cleanup begin.