Updated: August 27, 2011 7:34PM
While East Coast residents are dealing with Hurricane Irene, travelers in Chicago are changing their plans after airlines are reporting more delays and cancellations Saturday afternoon.
The National Weather Service said the eye of Hurricane Irene, a Category One storm, made landfall near Cape Lookout, N.C., about 7:30 a.m. (EST). The storm was moving north/northeast at 14 miles per hour and was to reach the New England region Sunday morning.
As of 3:30 p.m., because of the severe weather on the East Coast, airlines at O’Hare had to cancel about 200 flights but have no delays, according to the city’s Dept. of Aviation.
At Midway, airlines reported more than 30 cancellations with only minor delays, according to the department.
Additionally, Amtrak will only be offering reduced service to the East Coast on Saturday and will not operate any trains on Sunday, according to an Amtrak statement. Passengers are encouraged to call (800) USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com for status updates.
Meanwhile, approximately 160 members of the Illinois Army National Guard are on their way this weekend to New York to train for possible hurricane relief operations on the east coast. An additional 1,000 Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are reporting to their respective units to prepare and train for hurricane relief efforts, according to a release from the Illinois National Guard.
The Illinois National Guard is sending six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, pilots and crew, ground support vehicles and operators, and command and control staff, the release said.
Units departing for New York that will prepare to provide hurricane relief include Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 106th Aviation Battalion, in Peoria and elements of Company A, 106th Aviation Battalion in Decatur; Company B, 106th Aviation Battalion in Chicago, and Company C and Company D, 106th Aviation Battalion in Peoria. The Illinois National Guard elements that are leaving for training in New York will depart from their respective unit locations in Illinois in two stages on Saturday and Sunday. The other units will continue to train at their facilities and will only deploy if needed.