Local woman describes experience in Atlanta airport during power outage

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Operations have resumed after a Sunday power outage brought Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to a stand-still. There were more than 1,100 flights cancellations on Sunday alone, affecting holiday air traffic. Monday, some travelers were still sleeping on the airport floors, being told they had to wait hours or even days.

Officials say a fire in an underground electrical plant took out the power to the entire airport Sunday afternoon. The fire was so severe it took out back-up power too. The FAA ordered no flights in or out of Atlanta with the effect felt around the world. Flights began early Monday morning, but security lines were exponentially longer than usual in the world’s busiest airport and flights are still seeing delays.

Locally, three departures to Atlanta and one arrival were cancelled due to residual travel issues from this power outage. One Charleston woman, Robin Murray, was on her way home from a business trip with a layover in Atlanta. What was supposed to be a brief stop turned into a close to 24 hour nightmare.

She says, “I believe that this is something that’s never been planned for, and I think it will be planned for in the future.”

Murray was trapped in the plane on the tarmac for nearly to six hours after the power outage sent the airport to a grinding stop.

She says, “About three hours in, people started getting things through CNN and different news stations. So a lot of speculation was brought in, is this terrorism? But you had people getting scared then. And by the time we were getting off, it was just frustration.”

Inside the airport, she says conditions were not any better.

Murray says, “We were better off being on the tarmac and being on the plane. We had electricity still, so we could keep our electronics charged. In the airport there was no electricity, nobody  had service to let any of their loved ones where they were, where they were going, if they were going to get out.”

She says people were trapped on the trams and employees were sent home so there was no way to access food or water.

Murray says, “It was mind boggling that you got off that plane and there was no one to give you any information or any direction of what to do. You were on your own. It was survival mode, it really was.”

Luckily, Murray was able to find a hotel in Atlanta Sunday night, caught a flight Monday morning, and was relieved to have her feet on Charleston soil by Monday afternoon. She says after this ordeal, she’s going to need a little time before she ventures to an airport again.

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