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    AAPA issues Gulf ports update

    News // September 2, 2005

    The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has issued the following update describing conditions at a number of US ports in the Gulf of Mexico following the passage of Hurricane Katrina through the area:

    The Alabama State Port Authority sustained minimal damages from Hurricane Katrina.  Rising water deposited silt and debris in the general cargo areas causing some cargo damage. In the authority’s general cargo area, the port is delivering cargo to customers, but is not receiving cargo pending the conclusion of clean up operations. The clean up is expected to take a few days. 

    There was no damage sustained to the Authority’s bulk terminals, which are now open for operations. 

    Pending the completion of the US Army Corps of Engineers survey work of Mobile Ship and the Theodore Ship Channels, the port expects to be open to vessel traffic Saturday at the latest.

    Port of Lake Charles, Louisiana: no damage

    Greater LaFourche Port Commission - Port Fourchon, Louisiana: there is considerable damage at the port and to offshore facilities and the port is key to supporting the repair of these facilities. Preliminary depth surveys show that there is not significant shoaling in the channel. There are, however, several large capsized vessels blocking the inland channel. The port hopes to be back in operation within a week. The port’s most immediate need is for a minimum of a 125KW generator to fuel and feed recovery workers.
    Port of New Orleans: see
    • About 6,000 sea-going vessels pass through the Port of New Orleans annually, loaded with bulk cargoes and manufactured good destined for ports and rail hubs along the 14,500 miles of inland waterways that serve the South and Midwest. The Port of New Orleans alone handled 31.4 million tons of cargo in 2004, up 5 per cent from 2003, with imports accounting for 72  per cent of the traffic.
    • Hurricane Katrina interrupted farm shipments through New Orleans, where more than the grain exports from the US depart for overseas. In the worst-case scenario, snarled river traffic would force shippers to rely on rail or truck transportation, which are more expensive options, particularly with fuel costs rising. The good news is that corn and soybeans, the major crops shipped through New Orleans, are still growing in most parts of the country, and harvest is a few weeks off.
    • "Although there's never a good time, it's not as critical as it would be, say, six or eight weeks down the road, when there would be a flood of corn and soybeans coming down the river," said Terry Francl, economist for American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington.
    • Freight railroads whose lines through the New Orleans area were damaged by Hurricane Katrina detoured rail traffic Tuesday as far north as Chicago.
    • Trains were stopped as far as 400 miles from New Orleans on CSX Corp.’s lines and up to 200 miles from the city on Norfolk Southern Corp. rails.
    • About 100 freight trains a day serve New Orleans, one of the cities where Eastern railroads such as CSX deliver shipments and exchange traffic with Western lines such as Union Pacific. Shipments that typically run through New Orleans are being detoured as far as Chicago, 900 miles to the north. None of the railroads provided delay estimates.
    • Flooding from Hurricane Katrina has placed about 8 per cent of the world’s coffee supply, which is stored in warehouses in New Orleans, under threat. Néstor Osorio, executive director of the International Coffee Organisation, estimated that the loss of the 96,000 tonnes of coffee stored in New Orleans would take a year to replace and would raise the price of coffee.
    • The New York Board of Trade said yesterday that “no further delivery notices may be issued for coffee to be delivered in the Port of New Orleans until the condition of the warehouses and the coffee located there can be determined”.
    • The ports also store goods such as green coffee beans from Central and South America bound for US roasters. About 1.6 million 132-lb. bags are stored around New Orleans, says Judy Ganes of J Ganes Consulting in New York. That is about 27 per cent of green coffee stores in the US, she says.
    • New Orleans currently ranks third among Gulf Coast cruise ports with 26% of the market share.


    • Largest tonnage port in the US, handling nearly 200 million tons of commodities annually, including import petroleum products and export grain.
    • The primary inbound cargoes for at the Port of South Louisiana are crude oil (77 pe rcent), aluminum ores (13 per cent), and petroleum products (6 per cent).
    • Corn (41 per cent), animal feeds (16 per cent), oil seeds (16 per cent), and wheat (14 percent) dominate the port exports.
    • The Port handles half of all US exported grain and grain byproducts. Other major exports are lime, timber, sugar cane, cotton, rice, fertilizers, and resins.




    • Second largest importer of green fruit in the United States, such as bananas, other fresh fruits and vegetables.


    • Forest products are the primary outbound general cargoes at the Alabama State Docks—comprising nearly 50 percent of total forest products moving through the Gulf Coast region. The highest export tonnage is coal.
    • Another high-tonnage outbound product is petroleum. Primary inbound cargo at the Port of Mobile includes petroleum, coal, and iron ore. 

    Links to News Stories and Releases follow:

    Critical US Supply Line Is Disrupted, Washington Post - September 1, 2005

    The Port of Houston Authority Delivers Statement on Hurricane Katrina
    Port of Houston Authority New Release - Aug. 31, 2005

    Port picks up diverted cargo -  Houston Chronicle - Sept. 1, 2005

    New Orelans port chief: Maritime work may take months
    The Advocate - Baton Rouge - Sept. 1, 2005

    Any port in a storm will do: The Daily News - Jacksonville, NC - Sept. 1, 2005

    International Council of Cruise Lines statement

    American Trucking Associations Applauds Opening of SPR

    Port Authority (of New York & New Jersey) Announces Plans to Assist States Ravaged by Hurricane Katrina
    Useful Links 

    US Coast Guard Hurricane Katrina Incident Management Web Site

    US Corps of Engineers Hurricane Response Web site

    FEMA web site

    DOT Highway Information on Areas Affected by Katrina


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