Louisiana ports push for federal aid following Hurricane Ida

Several south Louisiana ports have partnered to request federal assistance as a result of the impact of Hurricane Ida on their infrastructure, waterways and communities.

The ports of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Fourchon, Morgan City, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, South Louisiana and Terrebonne jointly submitted a request to President Joe Biden on Sept. 7, intending to ensure ports are included in bills for urgent funding from Congress.

“Our wharves are busy post-storm and trains are moving, but we still have challenges to overcome in order to get back to previous levels,” Brandy D. Christian, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA), said in a statement.

Hurricane Ida made landfall in southeast Louisiana as a Category 4 storm on Aug. 30, prompting Port NOLA and other Gulf Coast ports to close as a precaution.

By Sept. 2, Port NOLA resumed limited operations and became fully operational Sept. 7, five days after the hurricane.  

The U.S. Coast Guard said several key waterways across southeast Louisiana remain closed, including Bayou Lafourche, Houma Navigation Canal and portions of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, according to a release.

“Obstructions to the affected waterways are being identified and removed to restore the area to pre-storm conditions,” the Coast Guard said in a statement Thursday.

All of the waterways are routes used by oil field vessels, fishing boats and other marine traffic.

To date, 25 obstructions — mostly fishing, crew and offshore supply vessels — have been identified in the Bayou Lafourche channel.

Coast Guard crews have also removed 15 of 30 submerged obstructions identified in the Houma Navigation Canal. 

Hurricane Ida killed at least 14 people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and at least 48 in the Northeastern U.S., according to reports.

Biden visited Louisiana on Sept. 3, walking the streets of hard-hit neighborhoods in New Orleans, according to the Associated Press. Biden also took a flyover tour of parts of the state damaged by Hurricane Ida.

Biden declared a state of emergency for New York on Sept. 3, allocating federal resources toward the state’s recovery after the storm caused billions in damage.

In Louisiana, damage to maritime facilities and infrastructure have caused closures or delays in everything from grain terminals to barge tows and other marine traffic, officials said. 

Christian, who is also CEO of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, said Port NOLA and the belt railroad supports nearly 120,000 jobs and generates an economic impact of nearly $30 billion.

“To restore this economic engine fully and preserve the thousands of jobs that depend on it, we respectfully ask that the White House urgently request funding from Congress to address these issues as soon as possible to help us collectively move forward from these significant impacts.” 

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