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Many stranded at Buffalo Niagara airport

A University at Buffalo sophomore paced the concourse of Buffalo Niagara International Airport on Monday after being told he wouldn't get back to his New Delhi, India, home until after New Year's.

Meanwhile, sitting nearby, an award-winning Boston photographer and Knoxville, Tenn., father and stepson, along with several others, plotted their respective strategies to get home.

The Northeast blizzard that dumped more than two feet of snow and brought hurricane-force winds to areas along the Eastern Seaboard snarled national travel and affected many travelers in Western New York.

As of Monday night, at least eight scheduled flights to New York City's LaGuardia and JFK airports had been canceled. Flights to Newark, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., also were among the cancellations.

Numerous incoming flights from New York City and Newark had also been canceled, with delays reported in flights from Philadelphia, Baltimore and Charlotte.

"We'll have to wait it out, that's all we can do -- there are no more [rental] cars," said Greg Safford, of Knoxville, who flew to Buffalo and then drove to Toronto with his stepson Robert Sharp for Christmas.

They were supposed to be routed through Charlotte, N.C., but Safford was told the airport there took on a large overflow of air traffic, resulting in significant delays.

Matthew J. Lee, staff photographer for the Boston Globe in town for Sunday's Bills-Patriots game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, was eyeing a red-eye bus trip headed east late Monday after learning late in the afternoon that his 6:20 p.m. flight to Boston was canceled. "I had two or three offers to ride [in a car] earlier [Monday]," said Lee, of Quincy, Mass., explaining that five Globe writers and an editor trekked back east by motor vehicle.

Lee, who said he spent the early part of Monday touring Niagara Falls, said he'd been assured all day that his flight was on schedule, but then it was canceled. "I've got 20 inches of snow at home, and my wife can't get the car out of the driveway," he said.

Dhruv Tyagi, a UB mechanical engineering major, seemed to have the thorniest problem. He limped through the airport pulling his luggage, with his leg in a brace. He's on winter break and is scheduled to have knee surgery in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Airline agents told him late Monday it was likely he'd have to make other plans.

"I moved out of my dorm today, I don't even have a place to live right now," said Tyagi, grasping his forehead. "I was supposed to go home today and be back home tomorrow."

Local travelers flying out of Western New York to places outside of the weather-affected areas found it much easier to get around, according to Buffalo airport officials. An airport official advised travelers to monitor the changing conditions throughout the day today at buffaloairport.com and fly.faa.gov.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com and cspecht@buffnews.com

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