Gulfport makes progress in recovery
The Port of Gulfport, Miss., is expected to begin limited operations within days, much faster than originally anticipated following initial damage assessments from Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi State Port Authority said.
The day after the storm port officials estimated that limited operations would not be available for months or even up to a year. Close cooperation between federal and local agencies and the private sector has sped up the recovery.
Katrina flattened most of the facilities through a combination of the tidal surge and wind damage. The port had no power, water, or sewage.
Electricity is now available in the northeast corner of the port perimeter and will soon be available throughout the facility, said Don Allee, port director. Water and sewer service are almost at normal levels and port users are setting up temporary offices.
The P&O Ports and SSA Marine terminals now appear ready to begin handling ships within days, the port authority said. Resuming containerized business has been the priority so far in the recovery effort. Carriers Crowley, Dole Liner, and the Great White Fleet (Chiquita) are involved in reconfiguring their respective terminals in preparation for resuming regularly scheduled liner operations by a target date of Sept. 30.
Road infrastructure is up and truck access through the east, west, and central entrances to the facility is clear for all traffic.
Rail service to the north and south from KCS Railroad should be available in the short term, as they received minimal damage from the storm. CSX Transportation lines have been significantly impacted, and the port said it has no estimate at this time when this service will resume.
The port’s roll-on/roll-off ramp, which was dedicated in early August, will require further dredging before it is fully operational. A contractor dedicated to debris removal will be on site shortly.