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|September 2nd, 2005, 06:44 PM||#1|
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Hurricane Katrina Damages Mississippi River Shipping Corridor
Flood damage to marshes may have long-term effects
By DANIEL MACHALABA in WOODSTOCK
2 September 2005
As state and federal officials grappled with the massive human toll wrought by one of the most powerful hurricanes to ravage the U.S. coastline, evidence mounted that the storm also damaged the critical Mississippi River shipping corridor south of New Orleans as well as the remote towns and ecologically sensitive marshes that surround it.
Photographs and first-hand accounts from helicopter pilots, boat captains and engineers working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicate that the main channel of the river remains intact. But the surrounding nub of land around the last 20 miles of the river, known colloquially as the "Crow's Foot," was heavily damaged with much left underwater.
The submersion of the Crow's Foot accelerates the gradual disappearance of Louisiana's coastal land and amplifies fears that the river might ultimately change its course. More than 1,900 square miles of the state have disappeared since the 1930s, according to America's Wetland, a Baton Rouge organization. The wetlands include portions of St. Bernard's and Plaquemines parishes, both of which were hard hit by Katrina.
The center of the hurricane's eye made landfall at the small town of Buras, La. Eyewitnesses say that community -- and a series of others stretched along the river between Empire, La., and the point at which the Mississippi empties into the sea -- were demolished and flooded.
The Coast Guard said the lower Mississippi River is closed to deepwater traffic but open in some areas to shallow-draft tugboats and barges. Nearly 90 vessels waited Thursday to pass through the Port of New Orleans, and more than 100 barges are believed sunk or grounded in the river.
Whether the long-term navigability of the Mississippi and its main entryway for large ocean-going vessels known as the Southwest Pass was significantly compromised won't be fully known for at least several more days.
The pass, normally dredged to be about 45 feet deep, is the conduit for more than 6,000 ocean-going vessels a year headed to the vast complex of docks, shipping terminals, grain-loading facilities and petroleum-processing plants that line the banks of the Mississippi between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La. If the levees along each side of the river have been seriously breached, then reopening the river channel to large vessels could be delayed indefinitely.
The massive shipping hub, one of the busiest in the world, is key to the flow of commerce-imported petroleum, export grain and a vast array of other types of cargo from rubber to make tires to steel for construction and chemicals. It is here that cargo is transferred between big ships and barges for distribution throughout the extensive Mississippi River system, extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the upper reaches of the Midwest.
How much of the water seen in the area will eventually drain away and recede back into the Gulf -- and how much land remains beneath it -- won't be known for some time. NOAA began the painstaking work Wednesday of surveying the lower Mississippi ship channel for potential obstructions and damage, deploying The Davidson, a former NOAA vessel now under contract to the agency to do survey work.
The roughly 200-foot-long ship anchored at the mouth of the Mississippi River and sent two launches with three-men crews and sonar to study the channel up Southwest Pass. "We are looking for cars, houses, boats, shipping containers, trees, anything blocking the shipping channels," said Lt. Commander Jon Swallow, chief of the operations branch, hydrographic surveys division of NOAA.
Kent Laborde, a NOAA public-affairs officer, said Thursday that "everything on the banks has been decimated, but the main ship channel seems to be functioning." Tim Osborn, a navigation manager for the Eastern Gulf for NOAA, said major obstacles haven't been found yet. But NOAA officials remain worried about the condition further along the channel where aerial surveys show shrimp boats crushed together along the channel at Empire and numerous barges and vessels washed up on the levees.
An executive from one of South Louisiana's numerous oil-field helicopter services who flew over the lower half of the Plaquemines Parish just hours after Katrina spun her way toward New Orleans and southern Mississippi says he saw what appeared to be multiple breaches of the Mississippi River levee -- one possibly 100 to 150 feet long.
At Buras, La., the water tower appears to be toppled and lying on the ground, Mr. Osborn said. "We are seeing so much debris and stranded vessels on the sides of the river, it certainly raises concern that there may be a number of obstructions or wrecked vessels within the river channel itself," Mr. Osborn said. What's more, NOAA has received reports from the Coast Guard about barges broken loose on the river to the north and missing.
Lt. Teresa Aberle from the Coast Guard's salvage group said several vessels are grounded in the river including a partially submerged barge near downtown New Orleans, but that none appear to entirely block the river channel.
Even if the main channel remains clear, damage to the coastal marshes surrounding it -- and any new cuts between the Gulf of Mexico and the channel -- could cause major problems. A large scour hole siphoning river flow out of the Southwest Pass into the Gulf of Mexico raised fears in the 1990s that the main shipping channel could become too shallow for big ships. The Army Corps of Engineers responded in 2003 by dumping millions of cubic yards of dredged material to plug the hole, partially succeeding, and building a dike to minimize the outflow.
Submersion of the area could have dire consequences for New Orleans in future storms. The marshes extending from the city out into the Gulf are a key buffer from powerful winds and waves of a hurricane, and its grasses provide friction to slow down the wind. Were it to wash away, says Richard Keim, assistant professor at the School of Renewable Natural Resources at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, "New Orleans could become a beachfront city."
Brent Barnard, vice president of the Gulf Coast region for Newpark Drilling Fluids, a Houston oil-field services concern, took a client over the coastal area this week in a plane at low altitudes. Mr. Bernard said he saw the Mississippi River levee breached in three places between the Empire, in mid Plaquemines Parish, and Venice. Four hamlets -- Empire, Buras, Triumph and Boothville -- appeared all but demolished. "Along this stretch of the river there were no buildings that we could see that weren't flooded or severely damaged by the wind," Mr. Barnard said.
Betsy McKay and Amy Schatz contributed to this article.
|September 11th, 2005, 07:01 AM||#2|
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Business at smaller ports picking up as ships headed for New Orleans look for a dock
By EMERY P. DALESIO
8 September 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The docks in Morehead City are booming this week, as longshoremen unload twice the amount of rubber that normally passes through the port. The same is true at the Port of Pensacola in Florida, where cargo traffic has jumped by about 60 percent in the days since Hurricane Katrina and companies are calling to see how much more steel, lumber and other products it can handle.
"I've been here eight years and I've never seen this level of activity before," Pensacola port director Leon Walker said.
But the boon to Pensacola and other ports could prove a bane to consumers, as businesses look to pass on a host of costs related to Katrina as higher prices.
Neither Morehead City or Pensacola rank in the country's top 40 ports. But they are receiving cargo once headed for New Orleans or Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss., before Hurricane Katrina swept through, damaging ports and forcing shippers to divert to docks elsewhere along the Gulf and East coasts. New Orleans is believed to be just weeks away from reopening, but there's no guess when the two Mississippi ports may again operate.
The extra workload has taxed some ports. Panama City has turned away cargo it's not equipped to handle and for the first time is accommodating small container ships that carry textiles to Mexico and return with finished products, ports executive director Wayne Stubbs said Thursday. The port is also handling many of the forest products previously exported through Pascagoula, he said.
Ports at Houston, and Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa, Fla., also will probably see cargo once destined for storm-ravaged docks, said Aaron Ellis, spokesman for the American Association of Port Authorities.
In Tampa and at the Virginia ports of Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth, shipping companies have asked about making deliveries of fresh produce, frozen poultry, rubber, plywood and other products.
"Our phones are very busy," said Tampa Port Authority spokeswoman Lori Musser, adding that it's too soon to report a big jump in traffic.
Fruit companies Chiquita Brands International Inc. and Dole Food Co. used Gulfport for banana shipments into the United States, but have diverted to Freeport, Texas and Port Everglades, near Fort Lauderdale.
Other ports may also see increases in specific types of freight, depending on their capability to unload, store and distribute it at the lowest cost, Ellis said.
The added shipping and logistics costs are just one item on the mounting bill businesses are paying for Katrina. That bill is topped by the jump in the cost of fuel, so large that it will bury the cost of port changes.
"One would think that rerouting your supply lines, there would be additional costs incurred," said Jason Schenker, an economist with Wachovia Corp. "It'll be very difficult to isolate how much of the cost increase is related solely to the diversion of transport."
Eventually, however, companies will look for a way to recoup those costs, by trying to pass them on to their customers, economists say.
North Carolina's state-run ports -- Morehead City at the south end of the Outer Banks and Wilmington near the South Carolina border -- compete with New Orleans for the rubber, steel and lumber they handle most often, ports authority spokeswoman Karen Fox said.
Morehead City trails only New Orleans in imports of natural rubber used in tire manufacturing. Dockworkers expect to load more than 250 trucks this week for the port's biggest customer, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., twice as much as usual.
The disaster on the Gulf Coast meant the world's No. 3 tire company restructured its supply chain so that rubber diverted to North Carolina docks can reach tire plants as far away as Lawton, Okla.; Topeka, Kan., and Tyler, Texas, spokesman Keith Price said.
"I would expect that the additional shipping that we have to do will increase our cost," Price said, but "we aren't able to forecast or estimate where pricing might be in the future."
Two ships scheduled to leave a portion of their rubber cargo in North Carolina before going on to New Orleans were forced to push off their entire shipments of more than 24,000 tons each at Morehead City. That's a quarter of the port's rubber tonnage for all of last year.
The Panama-flagged Bright Laker skipped a stop in New Orleans to chug on to Wilmington, where it arrived Wednesday with 12,000 tons of wire rod used in steel-belted tires and steel coils for auto bodies, Fox said.
The ship's Tokyo-based owner decided only Tuesday to dock in Wilmington, where the load will be distributed, said the Bright Laker's agent in port, Rodger Gore of Inchcape Shipping Services.
But while some ship owners and operators have quickly made arrangements for their cargo, others are weighing diversion against waiting for New Orleans or another particular port to reopen.
They must consider the value of the cargo, its perishability and whether manufacturing plants are counting on timely delivery, Ellis said. Some shippers will choose to pay more to ship via air, as they did in 2002 when labor unrest closed ports along the West Coast, he said.
"We do have a system of ports and thank God for that," Ellis said. "If one part of the system goes down, there are alternatives so that we as consumers are not dependent on goods moving through one port."
|September 13th, 2005, 04:31 AM||#3|
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Windblown, not beaten, New Orleans port recovers
NEW ORLEANS, Sept 11 (Reuters) - The coffee stored in silos at the Port of New Orleans is ruined, containers lie scattered messily like children's toys and the city that fed the port with electricity, manpower and railway lines is devastated and deserted.
But as Port of New Orleans Chief Executive Gary LaGrange surveys the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina two weeks ago, he says it could have been worse, and it looks like the port will be back on its feet much faster than originally thought.
LaGrange also insists that grain shipments from the U.S. agricultural heartland have not been severely affected, and that grain elevators are running at 85 percent of normal operations.
"You've got some serious damage, but I call it moderate damage," LaGrange said as he toured the port's new $120 million container yard, where containers were flung around by Katrina's 140 mph (225 kph) winds as if they were leaves.
"It's not enough to stop this port for six months. All of this is frivolous. We can replace all of the skin lost on the buildings."
The visible damage in the stretch of upriver dockside the Port of New Orleans president put on display was largely superficial. Tin or aluminum sheets on warehouse walls were peeled away, and hangar doors blown out.
The coverings around the electronics of huge container cranes were stripped off and the machinery inside soaked by Katrina's lashing rains. But port officials said their engineers had assured them the electronics would dry out in a week and work just fine.
Instead of a freighter, the USS Iwo Jima helicopter carrier lies alongside the dock of the fifth biggest U.S. port, a vital cog in the U.S. economy that connects the U.S. interior to the sea through the 15,000 miles (24,140 km) of the Mississippi and its tributaries. More than 100,000 people made their living from the port in one way or another.
Three vessels were torn loose during the storm to career around the Mississippi River. None blocked any shipping channels, and LaGrange said he could have sworn he recently saw one of them steaming down river with a load.
Downriver terminals remain flooded, but it is the upriver terminals that handle the bulk of the cargo.
What the port, which stretches along 26 miles (42 km) of Mississippi riverbank, needed, LaGrange said, was manpower, electric power and truck power.
The utility companies had assured the port electricity would be restored by Monday, the International Longshoremen's Association had guaranteed workers, up to 1,000 of whom will be able to sleep on berthed vessels, and state authorities and police will allow in convoys of trucks, he said.
"The point is, we're going to be back," LaGrange said.
"We think that within a month we can be back at 30 percent. In three months we can probably be back at 70 percent to 80 percent. We think that in four to five months we'll be back to 100 percent."
The Port of New Orleans accounts for 20 percent of U.S. imports and exports. It is the largest steel importer, the largest plywood importer, the second largest coffee importer, and the largest importer of London Metal Exchange-certified precious metals.
It was also on the verge of becoming the largest exporter of U.S. chickens.
Its location at the mouth of the Mississippi River had long made it a coveted target. The British sent ships along the Mississippi in 1815 in an attempt to seize New Orleans before being defeated by Gen. Andrew Jackson's troops.
LaGrange said the port served 60 percent of U.S. consumers, all the way up to Chicago, and the closure of the port since Aug. 27 would be felt by Americans in the prices they paid for everything from underwear to shoes.
But LaGrange said the river remained navigable.
Whatever impediments to shipping there had been at the mouth of the river were removed Saturday, and the river would be back at its desired depth of 45 feet (13.72 metres) by Monday. On Saturday the depth was at 39 feet (11.89 metres).
"A lot of folks thought it would take us six months to get up and running again ... but actually we'll be able to load our first ship by Wednesday," LaGrange said.
He says cargo is already moving on the river, especially grains shipments.
"The farmers are not suffering that much because the grain elevators are at 85 percent of normal operations," LaGrange said. "We've seen more grain ships go by here in the last five days than we've seen any other. The grain is flowing."
|September 14th, 2005, 01:28 AM||#4|
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Port New Orleans To Ship Commercial Cargo Monday
12 September 2005
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Commercial cargo operations at the Port of New Orleans will be restarted Monday with a shipment of steel coils sent by barge to an Alabama auto manufacturer. The port is expected to work its first container ship on Wednesday, port officials announced Monday.
Monday marks the first time commercial cargo has moved through the port since it was shut down due to damage from Hurricane Katrina.
In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard has opened the Mississippi River to vessels with drafts of 41 feet during daylight hours only, from 39 feet last week. On Saturday, a grain ship headed upriver from the Port of New Orleans to grain elevators.
"We are committed to restarting commercial cargo operations at this port as soon as possible because the cargo we handle has a significant impact on the economy of the region and the nation," Gary LaGrange, port president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.
"Hurricane Katrina damaged the port, and we are currently able to handle a small fraction of our normal activity. Nevertheless, we are taking important first steps to getting the New Orleans economy primed and re-establishing our relationships with our customers," he said.
The Department of Transportation Maritime Administration has provided ships to help with port operations and also to provide temporary housing for port workers displaced by Katrina.
The Port of New Orleans on Monday also will load three generators onto barges for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will be used to power pumping stations in the New Orleans relief effort.
|November 11th, 2005, 05:00 PM||#5|
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Port Of New Orleans Up To Just 40% Of Normal Operations
11 November 2005
NEW ORLEANS (AP)--The Port of New Orleans, which is trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina, has returned to about 40% of its normal operating capacity, port officials say.
But two of the three container terminals at the port are still not receiving ships, dock workers are having problems getting enough business and truck service, which moves 70% of the cargo in and out of the port, is still sporadic.
Cargo that would normally go to the Maersk Sealand terminal is still being diverted to Houston and to Port Everglades, Fla. Ceres Gulf Inc., which jointly operates a container terminal with P&O Ports Louisiana, lost its only customer before Hurricane Katrina to Houston and Mobile, Ala., and has not yet found a replacement.
James Campbell, president of the International Longshoreman's Association local, said the levels are not enough to keep his workers busy. Only one-third of the 200 ILA workers have returned. Others are waiting to find housing or have stayed away because there is not enough work, he said.
"I just don't have the number of jobs for everyone right now," Campbell said.
Dock workers lost about 90 jobs with the shutdown of the Maersk Sealand container terminal and New Orleans Cold Storage warehouses, Campbell said.
The port is in stiff competition with other cities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for truck drivers. Before Katrina, about 1,000 truck drivers hauled 1,500 truck loads on a busy day at the port. That has fallen to about 150 drivers handling 450 loads per day, the port said.
On Thursday, the port said it would offer free housing aboard military ships to drivers who work its cargoes.
|December 30th, 2005, 04:31 PM||#6|
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Hurricane-hit port recovers half of business
By ALAN SAYRE
28 December 2005
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - After Hurricane Katrina destroyed about one-third of the Port of New Orleans, the port's chief executive turned an offhand remark into a challenge to restart a vital part of the city's storm-ravaged economy.
"It all came out as kind of a joke when someone told me, 'You won't have a ship in this port for six months,'" port chief Gary LaGrange recalled. "My response, with a lot of bravado, was we'll be back at 70 percent within six months."
So far, so good.
The port, a major entry point for imported steel, natural rubber and coffee, received its first post-storm ship Sept. 12, two weeks after Katrina. Just over three months later, the port is running at about half capacity, LaGrange said in an interview. Before Katrina hit Aug. 29, it was getting 36 to 40 ship calls a week. Now, the count is 18 to 20.
By March or April, the goal is to hit 70 percent of pre-Katrina calls.
But many hurdles remain: finding enough truck drivers to haul and deliver containerized cargo, and enough longshoremen to handle bulk loads; getting cruise ships that handled 700,000 passengers annually back on schedule; and keeping finances in line with diminished business.
In 2003, New Orleans ranked fifth among U.S. ports in tons of cargo handled, and 12th in total foreign trade, according to the latest figures available from the American Association of Port Authorities.
LaGrange estimated the port sustained $100 million in damage, while port-dependent businesses had another $280 million to $300 million in damage. The portion of the port nearest the Industrial Canal, the site of devastating flooding, was virtually wiped out.
"Thirty percent of the port is no longer in existence as we knew it Aug. 28," LaGrange said.
One of the businesses that depends on the port is Cold Storage and Warehousing Ltd., which exports frozen chickens. The company was stuck with 52 million pounds of rotting chicken after its power was knocked out by Katrina.
"The port's success has allowed us to grow our business a lot in the last 10 years," said Mark Blanchard, the company's executive vice president. "Without the port, we wouldn't have a customer base to fill three cold-storage warehouses."
Cold Storage hopes to reopen with half its capacity early next year.
The storm also has created difficulties for port businesses because of their dependence on the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a 76-mile man-made channel from the Gulf of Mexico that allows ocean-going ships access to the port's Inner Harbor Navigation Canal. Most deep-draft ships can't get to the inner harbor from the Mississippi River because they can't fit through the current lock on the Industrial Canal.
Now, with the outlet blamed by some for helping to flood St. Bernard Parish during Katrina, calls are rising for its closure. If that occurs, lock improvements will have to be hastened, businesses moved to other sections of the port or goods trucked to ships along the river, LaGrange said. A source of funding for such a move has not been secured, but one possibility could be federal money now earmarked to keep the outlet dredged.
Last year, 1,904 ships loaded and unloaded cargo at the port, a series of terminals and wharfs on the Mississippi River. The port handled 10.4 million tons of general cargo and 169,304 freight containers at a site that included 22-million-square feet of cargo handling areas.
One group watching the comeback bid with keen interest is union longshoremen, who've seen their ranks trimmed from roughly 5,000 in the 1950s to 460 today as automation and container cargo have sharply reduced the amount of heavy labor needed.
Jim Campbell, president of the International Longshoremen's Association local at the port, said about 220 of his members have returned to the area and more are ready to come back if the work picks up.
"We've got enough people to handle the work we have," Campbell said. "But we're begging for work. If we can get more work, we can get more people."
For now, some longshoremen are staying on cargo ships at the port. Campbell said his members need emergency trailers for their families and schools for their children.
"We're not asking for anyone to come help us out of this," he said. "We're asking to be able to help ourselves."
LaGrange said temporary housing and schools also would help alleviate another problem -- a shortage of truck drivers displaced by the storm.
"Any longshoreman, trucker or port worker is more apt to feel at home even if that trailer is for a year or two," he said. The port, which had about 1,500 truck calls per day before Katrina, now receives about 600.
"As the ship calls increase, the truck calls will have to increase proportionately," LaGrange said.
The port itself employed 330 workers before Katrina and now has a payroll of 275, after accounting for employees who don't plan to return to New Orleans and the elimination of jobs vacant before Katrina.
One possible scenario LaGrange can't avoid is that his operation will never again be as big as it was before the storm.
"There's always that possibility, but I thought there was that possibility before Katrina," LaGrange said. "Competition is not a new wrinkle. Katrina simply escalated it."
In the meantime, the port is expecting a jump in foreign steel imports following the elimination of steel tariffs, a restart of the cruise business -- including the first post-storm passenger call Dec. 31 -- and increased poultry exports.
Although the port hasn't asked for direct federal aid for its basic operations, LaGrange said he's hoping for congressional action that would allow it to refinance about $110 million in outstanding debt. One refinancing proposal would give the port a "payment holiday" for two years, followed by interest-only payments for two years and an extended amortization schedule.
"We wouldn't turn it down," LaGrange said of direct federal payments. "But we haven't been standing there with our hand out."
On the Net:
Port of New Orleans: http://www.portno.com
|February 23rd, 2006, 05:25 AM||#7|
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New Orleans port is back in business
But the future of a key canal - suspected of funneling the storm surge into the city - is uncertain
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
21 February 2006
Mark Blanchard built his cold storage plant on the Inner Harbor waterfront, where large, deep-water ships had easy access. He felt confident they would always be able to dock at his plant because it was located not on the Mississippi River itself, but rather near a canal, 36 feet deep, that Congress had specified should be maintained at that depth.
But hurricane Katrina has changed all that.
The canal - part of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), called Mr. Go by locals - may have acted as a giant funnel, transporting the hurricane's storm surge over the levees and into eastern New Orleans, experts suggest. Now the US Army Corps of Engineers is studying whether to dredge the channel - which is filling in, blocking access to Mr. Blanchard's facility - or to abandon Mr. Go altogether.
Debate over the canal's future is already cooking up a Louisiana gumbo of money and politics.
The Port of New Orleans is asking that the state or federal government spend $360 million to move Blanchard's operation and eight other companies to the banks of the Mississippi River. If not that, then the port wants the government to pay some $600 million to enlarge the locks that currently connect the Mississippi to another canal that serves the Inner Harbor, allowing ships to access the nine businesses.
The issue is one that has come to the attention of President Bush, who met last month with Blanchard. Other influential political donors have a financial stake, too, including Donald "Buddy" Bollinger, who gave $50,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2004 and who owns a shipyard that would be affected by Mr. Go's closure.
"That 18-month [Army Corps] study will cause those nine companies to relocate to other states, other ports," says Gary LaGrange, port president. "We cannot afford to lose one job."
MRGO critics do not oppose a bailout, so long as the canal is permanently closed. "Let's pay them off," says Oliver Houck, professor of environmental law at Tulane University. "We're not safe unless we pay them off." He and others argue that the MRGO is an egregious example of corporate welfare.
Some 289 ships use the canal each year, according to the port's Mr. LaGrange. The US government spends $7 million to $8 million a year to maintain it, amounting to significant subsidy for the users.
"Despite the ... hundreds of millions spent maintaining it, the canal never lived up to its potential. Less than 3 percent of New Orleans ship traffic is using Mr. Go," says critic Robert Verchick, professor of environmental law at Loyola University New Orleans.
New Orleans Cold Storage, Blanchard's company, is one of those users. Poultry companies ship to his plant, where their products are frozen and then loaded onto ocean-going freighters destined for places like the Ukraine. With its blast freezers and storage rooms next to the water, NOCS had a cost advantage over competitors. Orders soared, and the firm planned to expand.
But with the MRGO now silting in, the big freighters dock on the Mississippi River. The frozen chicken is loaded onto trucks for a 15- to 20-minute ride to the riverfront. "Every one-quarter of a cent per pound extra is important," says Blanchard. He might move his operation to another port in another state if something is not done, he says. Meanwhile, he's repairing damage to his facility from the storm surge.
In January, Blanchard was one of four businessmen who met with Mr. Bush to talk about Katrina's effect on their businesses. After explaining his situation, Blanchard says, the president told him, "That's not right. We need to do something about that."
Houck, though, is not so sure the port has a case that the government owes businesses anything. "There is no legal requirement to maintain [MRGO]," he states.
MRGO construction started in 1956 and was finished in 1963. Impetus for the channel dates from the 1940s, when proponents said the Mississippi River - with its propensity to silt up - could not be counted on as a shipping lane. The argument won over President Dwight Eisenhower and Congress, which authorized a channel that would be maintained at 36 feet deep.
For more than 20 years, critics have warned that the canal might funnel a storm surge into New Orleans. The risk has become greater over time, as saltwater incursion killed off vast swathes of swampland that had protected inhabited areas. The Jefferson Parish Council recently voted against reopening the channel. Privately, port officials say they expect MRGO to be closed.
Despite the hubbub over Mr. Go, the port has bounced back. In the past two weeks, shipping activity is back to pre-Katrina levels - even with Mr. Go closed to deep-keel ships, says LaGrange. The port is the largest receiving point for imported steel, rubber, and plywood. It's the second largest destination for coffee. Cruise ships are expected to return to New Orleans by fall.
|July 17th, 2009, 04:03 PM||#9|
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Port of NO continues to shed land
16 July 2009
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The governing board of the Port of New Orleans has agreed to sell a parcel of land along the industrial canal.
The surplus property will be sold to Bayou Fleet Partnership, a barge company that already leases the space from the port.
The port has been shedding its holdings along the Industrial Canal, which has seen an exodus of maritime businesses since 2005's Hurricane Katrina.
The lock that connects the Mississippi River with the canal is too small to fit many modern ships. The only other entry to the canal, the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, has been closed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Information from: The Times-Picayune