Austin airport travelers are experiencing major delays, others cancellations. This is all because of water damage to the control tower. While a temporary tower is now in place, it will still be several days before things improve.
On Friday, more than 14 inches of rain fell at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport flooding the runway and the first floor of the control tower. Cables and electrical equipment in the radar room were left under a foot of water.
Monday, travelers were still feeling the effects of the storm damage and will for some time.
"I was supposed to leave at 5:35. Got here at four. It's now been pushed back to 8:40," said Susan Banning.
George Strouhal was supposed to leave at 7 a.m. 12 hours later, he had returned to the airport to board a new flight home.
"They told me when I did the outside check-in that my flight would be on time, but I don't know. I got an email that said it might be a half-hour later," said Strouhal.
Looking at the departure board, only five flights are one time. Four flights have been canceled.
Federal Aviation Administration Spokesperson Lynn Lunsford says the delay is due in part to a Houston center that is now providing radar separation for flights and a temporary tower that has been brought in while repairs are made to the permanent structure.
The temporary tower is basically an RV with windows around it in the front. Sight is limited, so only one runway is in operation and the spacing between flights has increased.
"The FAA's primary mission is to provide safe and efficient travel and what we're doing in this case is insuring the travel is as safe as possible. The additional space in between airplanes means you don't have to worry about coming to close to another aircraft," said Lunsford.
Lunsford says very soon Austin controllers will operate out of the radar room at the San Antonio airport.
"At that point we should be able to significantly increase the amount of traffic that we're able to get into the Austin airport," said Lunsford.
For now, be prepared to wait. For Strouhal that meant a nap and hugging his grandkids one more time.
Thankfully, our Austin visitors don't seem to hold it against us.
"It will be fine as long as I get to leave," said Banning.
We will get a better picture of the situation Tuesday. Lunsford will be here in Austin and is expected to give the media a tour of the temporary tower.