Hawaii's visitor industry helps travelers stranded by Sandy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With thousands of flights canceled due to Superstorm Sandy, many East Coast visitors trying leave to Hawaii never got off the ground. While they're stuck here, they're worried about the turmoil back home.

George Parker and his wife expected to be heading home on Monday night, but their United Airlines flight was canceled. They're hoping to return to New York on Tuesday after a stopover in San Francisco.

"In San Francisco, I guess we'll find (out) more, but I'm on my way home. That's what's important to tell you the truth. I live right on the shore," said the resident of New Rochelle, New York.

This is just the latest twist in their vacation. After waiting out the tsunami scare over the weekend, now they're concerned about potential damage to their house and the safety of loved ones back home.

"I've got family out on Long Island," said Parker. "It's an ordeal."

United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines have canceled four direct flights to New York, Newark, and Washington, D.C. since Sunday. Many carriers are waiving fees for travelers who need to change their reservations due to the storm. Some hotels are also creating specials deals for stranded tourists. Hawaiian Air teamed up with Outrigger Hotels & Resorts to offer discounted rates. The company has more than 5,000 rooms in Waikiki under a variety of brands.

"We understand in some cases people are worried, is their place going to be damaged by the storm or damaged by the rain? So we try to make it as we do every day as friendly as possible for our guests," said Outrigger Enterprises CEO David Carey III.

Meanwhile, Hawaii travelers on the East Coast are uneasy about the fierce storm. Honolulu resident Lance Rae is staying with a friend in Queens, New York.

"All of a sudden, I saw the Dunkin' Donuts sign go up past my window and crash down on the ground. It ripped off a couple of awnings downstairs. Glass everywhere. Broken glass," said Rae.