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Post-hurricane Repair Continues at the Gulf Ports

posted on December 30, 2005

Experts say the H5N1 virus is similar to the Spanish Flu strain that killed millions of people in 1918. While no American has contracted Avian Flu, the Bush administration has asked Congress for more than $7 billion dollars to prepare for an outbreak. From potential pandemics to funding for the war on terror, Congress continues to be the resource America calls on in times of trouble. And this year, Capitol Hill received more requests than the North Pole. The most urgent appeals came from the South after Hurricane Katrina hammered the Gulf Coast. Four month's later, most deep-hulled ships still cannot navigate the inner harbors from the Mississippi River. But the Army Corps of Engineers hopes to have most of the repairs completed by Spring.

Post-hurricane Repair Continues at the Gulf Ports

Barge traffic on northern portions of the Mississippi River has halted for the winter months, but post hurricane repair work further south at the gulf ports continues -- with a goal to get back to 70% of pre-Katrina shipping capacity by March or April.

The port is currently running at about half-capacity, and many hurdles remain.

The hurricane destroyed about one-third of the port  causing an estimated $100 million dollars in damage. Port-dependent businesses had up to $300 (M) million dollars in damage. The portion of the port nearest the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal, also known as the Industrial Canal, was virtually wiped out.

And at least one non-profit group (the Coalition to Close the MRGO) is calling for the closure of 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 canal. They claim the channel contributed to the flooding of a New Orleans Parish during Hurricane Katrina.

The Port's chief says he hasn't asked for direct federal aid for basic operations, but he's hoping for congressional action that would allow the Port to refinance about $110 million in outstanding debt.

Meanwhile, there continues to be immediate needs for truck drivers to haul and deliver containerized cargo, and longshoremen to handle bulk loads.

Half the grain produced in the U.S. is shipped down the Mississippi river to the gulf ports, and then to markets overseas.


Tags: boats disasters Hurricane Katrina hurricanes news storms trade weather