US ports reopen after Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew

Worries about Hurricane Matthew at the height of its strength, pictured, forced the closure of ports throughout the US Southeast.
Ports from Miami to Hampton Roads resumed cargo operations Monday after Hurricane Matthew interrupted cargo activity for several days but left ports with much less damage than feared.

After causing more than 1,000 deaths in Haiti and severe damage as it swept through the Bahamas, Matthew raked the coasts of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, and was blamed for 22 deaths in the United States before heading out to sea.

Several ports from Miami to Norfolk halted operations in advance of the storm as the US Coast Guard restricted vessel movements.

All ports were operating today, and port officials said initial assessments indicated no major damage to their facilities.

However, cleanup work was continuing and surrounding communities near the ports were still dealing with widespread electrical shortages, blocked and congested roads, and widespread flooding, particularly in eastern North Carolina.

The US Coast Guard said vessel traffic at the ports of Savannah and Brunswick remained closed Monday. Deep-draft traffic to Wilmington, North Carolina, is still restricted to daylight hours. The ports of Charleston and at Fernandina Beach, Florida, are open to full operation, but the Coast Guard urged vessels to operate cautiously while navigation aids are inspected. Normal vessel traffic was restored Monday at the Port of Virginia.

The Georgia Ports Authority said container operations at Savannah would resume Monday evening and that truck gates would reopen Tuesday. Electrical power was restored Sunday at the Savannah and Brunswick ports, and the GPA said rail service had resumed to all terminals.

In Florida, the Jacksonville Port Authority reported normal operations. Port Canaveral reopened to vessel traffic Saturday after receiving Coast Guard clearance. Cruise ships operating from the Florida port had revised their calls at the port in order to avoid the storm.

Ports minimized damage by securing cranes, lowering container stacks, and taking other precautions as the storm approached. At Charleston, port workers moved BMW automobiles awaiting export from Charleston onto ships and railcars, and covered gate kiosk equipment in plastic.

Norfolk Southern Railway in a customer advisory said that its services to Jacksonville, Brunswick, Savannah, and Charleston had been restored and the railroad is working to restore service east of Selma, North Carolina to New Bern, North Carolina. The company said it is struggling with flooding in the area around the Port of Virginia.

CSX Transportation on Saturday said that service remained suspended from Savannah to Pembroke, North Carolina although its Florida operations were largely back to normal.


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