NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Airline travelers hoping for a holiday gift got a lump of coal instead.
Winter got off to a wet and windy start across the Tri-State Area on Friday, causing power outages, flooding roads and massive delays for holiday travelers.
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And a nasty winter storm is delivering an extra infusion of stress at airports -- already jam-packed on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
The storm crippled roads and runways in the Midwest -- forcing some airports to shut down entirely. More than a thousand flights have been cancelled and many more delayed just four days before Christmas.
The system then moved East and pounded our area with wind and rain. High winds were blamed for lingering airport delays, with three-hour waits at Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
Shannon Hennessey and her daughter Lydia were among thousands of stranded travelers who are determined to find a way to get where they are going before Christmas.
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"We don't want to spend Christmas at La Guardia," Hennessey said. "Our flight might have been cancelled -- no it's delayed so we're gonna get out," Hennessey told CBS 2's Kathryn Brown.
"Everyone's in the same boat," said traveler Jonathan Fox. "They all want to get to their destination for the holidays."
The Florida bound Martins told CBS 2's Emily Smith that they haven't had heat, power, or hot water in their lower Manhattan home since Sandy struck.
"It's like our new normal, we are trying to take it all in stride," said Mary Margaret Martin.
But for those travelers left stranded, Santa Claus was on hand to deliver some cheer and promised that presents would be delivered, Brown reported.
"I'm gonna do everything I can. When Rudolph gets that nose on we're going where we gotta go anytime we gotta get there," Santa told Brown.
The storm also left thousands of customers without power across the region due to the high wins and rains that downed power lines.
Temps dropped to the 40s by late afternoon, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged all New Yorkers who are living without heat due to damage caused by Superstorm Sandy to get to a warm, safe place immediately as cold temperatures are expected to last for three to four days.
"As temperatures drop, those living without heat face serious health problems and even death. Don't take any chances with your life, or with your family's lives," he said.
The city has set up restoration centers where those left without heat by the storm can go to find places to stay. Residents can call 311 for more information.
Delays at LaGuardia and Newark have averaged two-hours and delays at Kennedy have been around thirty-minutes.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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