Colorado Blizzard Cancels Flights, Closes Businesses

A storm dumping snow across Colorado has shut down the Denver airport, where about two feet has fallen so far, and closed roads. It has also forced stores to close, hurting small businesses across the region.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Economic activity, and for that matter pretty much everything, has slowed down or even stopped, in Denver. A blizzard yesterday dumped two feet of snow on Colorado. Workers were sent home, city buses stopped running, and Denver International Airport cancelled hundreds of flights. NPR's Jeff Brady reports.

JEFF BRADY: East of Denver out on the high plains, Gary Rhodes(ph) is worried about his cattle. They usually graze on pasture, but when the grass is covered with snow, the animals need something else to eat. He's driving hay out to his herds and making sure they aren't too cold.

Mr. GARY RHODES (Colorado Rancher): They need to be in a protective pasture that might have a draw or a crick through it. And maybe they can get down to where the wind isn't quite as bad.

BRADY: Back in Denver, the Cherry Creek shopping district looks like a ghost town. Rex Montague owns a card and gift shop. He says missing a few days of sales during the holiday season, hurts.

Mr. REX MONTAGUE (Denver Shop Owner): You know, it means you got that amount of inventory left over that you should have turned into dollars. And so it means that you've got that much less to pay bills with. You know, it hurts all the way around. Any way that you look at it.

BRADY: Across town, retired architect John Hinderson(ph) runs an import store. His sales are down too. Leaning against a warm radiator in his shop, he finds a silver lining.

Mr. JOHN HINDERSON (Import Store Owner): I'm grateful that I am still among the living and can appreciate these kinds of things. These kinds of things, as far as I'm - they're beautiful.

BRADY: Airlines and holiday travelers may not be so optimistic. United has a hub in Denver and was forced to cancel more than 600 flights. Denver International Airport is expected to reopen this evening. Meantime, a couple of thousand stranded passengers are calling DIA home.

Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver.

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