Ports waiting on Coast Guard
Ports in South Florida remained closed Wednesday morning by order of the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Port of Jacksonville was scheduled to be ordered closed at 6 p.m.
Although Tropical Storm Ernesto did not develop into a hurricane as forecasters had initially feared, South Florida ports remained closed until the Coast Guard could complete safety assessments of the shipping channels. The shutdowns affected the ports of Miami, Miami River, Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach, and Port Canaveral.
Along Florida's Gulf Coast, the ports remained open under a 'Condition Yankee' alert, which means vessel traffic is being closely monitored and remains subject to restrictions as needed, although the ports remained open to vessel traffic.
'We do not anticipate closing the ports of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Manatee and Crystal River to commercial vessel traffic,' U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Joseph Servidio, Captain of the Port of Tampa, said.
However, the Coast Guard said it planned to establish a 'safety zone' around the Port of Jacksonville as Ernesto headed north. The port will be closed to vessel at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The closures also impacted truck traffic at the ports. The Port of Miami has been closed to truck traffic since Monday afternoon.
Port Everglades was closed to most truck traffic at 8 a.m. Tuesday, although the gates have remained open for fuel trucks. Port Everglades is a primary distribution point for everything from gasoline to jet fuel for all of South Florida.
Gov. Jeb Bush said at a press conference Tuesday there are already plentiful supplies of fuel in the state, and trucks should be able to continue delivering fuel to gas stations.
Several shipping lines closed their South Florida offices Tuesday and were awaiting word from the Coast Guard before establishing normal operations and setting revised shipping schedules to and from the South Florida ports.
Seaboard Marine said it opened its Miami warehouse for receiving Wednesday morning, with the main office scheduled to open at 11 a.m.
Other carriers said they expected to be operating normally by Thursday, but were waiting to hear from the Coast Guard before making a decision on operations Wednesday.