Transportation sector girds for Irene
Ports and freight railroads are among those bracing for Hurricane Irene, which forecasters expect to do widespread damage as it hugs the coast all the way from North Carolina to New York and beyond.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is advising tenants to take necessary precautions, which includes placing sandbags at the base of cargo doors to minimize water intrusion, securing and covering cargo stored outdoors if it cannot be transferred to sheltered areas, and securing cranes, barges, warehouse doors and yard equipment.
The agency, which also runs area airports, said it would be fully staffed, will activate its emergency mobile command center, and coordinate activities with state governments and Federal Aviation Administration, which controls air traffic.
World Trade Center staff has notified contractors to secure construction sites.
Similar arrangements are being made at other ports, including the Port of Virginia in Norfolk and North Carolina's bulk port in Morehead City. Those cities lie directly in the path of Irene, based on the latest forecasts.
Freight railroads Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation said the storm is expected to impact operations along the eastern seaboard, especially in North Carolina and Virginia.
Norfolk Southern is taking the precautionary step of holding at inland terminals further west shipments bound for the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. It is also giving priority to moving shipments already in the region out of the storm zone. Material, equipment and personnel are being pre-positioned to move into the area after the storm passes to address power outages, debris, flooding and other potential problems, it said.
The railroad said it will curtail local service 24 to 48 hours in advance of the storm as it moves north. Some train operations in the affected region are likely to be discontinued.
CSX also said it is making plans to deal with the storm and recovery.
Passenger carrier Amtrak has canceled some train service south of Washington, D.C.
Cargo and passenger flights at airports on the East Coast are also likely to be disrupted this weekend.