AJOT Blogs


Texas ports looking to reopen by next week in Harvey’s wake

Aug 29, 2017

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, key Texas ports have sights on reopening by early next week [the week of Monday, Sept. 4].

Port Corpus Christi’s communications director, Patricia Cardenas, told the AJOT this afternoon [Tuesday, Aug. 29] that the nation’s fourth-busiest seaport is “most likely” going to resume normal operations by Monday, Sept. 4.

The main issue at Port Corpus Christi is not the condition of port facilities but rather the safe navigability of channel areas, according to Cardenas, who added that Corpus Christi refineries are looking to resume operations as soon as possible as well.

“The impact on the port infrastructure was really minimal,” Cardenas said. However, port officials are awaiting word from the U.S. Coast Guard that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hydrographic surveys show it is safe to reopen channel areas.

Similar reports come from Port Houston, the No. 1 U.S. foreign tonnage port, which early this afternoon issued the following succinct statement: “We will be continuing to monitor the developing weather conditions to determine whether operations can safely resume on Wednesday [Aug. 30].”

Port Corpus Christi officials hold a briefing today [Tuesday, Aug. 29] at the port’s emergency operations center.
Port Corpus Christi officials hold a briefing today [Tuesday, Aug. 29] at the port’s emergency operations center.

Later this afternoon, Bill Hensel, Port Houston’s manager of external communications, told AJOT: “Port Houston facilities are closed again tomorrow [Wednesday, Aug. 30]. No decision has been made beyond that.”

There are reports of silting in Houston channel areas, and resumption of operations there, as at other ports, depends upon Coast Guard go-ahead based upon Corps of Engineers surveys.

On the Gulf of Mexico immediately south of Houston, Port Freeport has fared comparatively well, according to Phyllis Saathoff, that port’s executive director and chief operating officer.

“We’ve been very fortunate at Port Freeport,” Saathoff told AJOT this afternoon. “We have no damage at the port.”

Saathoff said Port Freeport’s short channel “appears to be clear with minimal shoaling. She added that resuming vessel traffic should occur “hopefully by Thursday [Aug. 31].”

“We’re waiting for the seas to calm and waiting to get tugs back down from Galveston,” she said. Noting that Freeport did not take a direct hit, has a relatively short channel and is somewhat naturally protected, Saathoff said, “We generally are the first to reopen.”

The Port of Galveston’s director of economic development and external affairs, Roger Quiroga, told AJOT this afternoon that the wait until reopening of the Galveston’s island seaport “won’t be anything less than 48 hours,” putting it at late Thursday, Aug. 31, at the very earliest.

However, that might be overly optimistic, as Quiroga commented, “The total island is totally flooded, so it’s hard to assess until one can get out there.”

Author Photo

For more than a quarter of a century, Paul Scott Abbott has been writing and shooting images for the American Journal of Transportation, applying four decades of experience as an award-winning journalist.

A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a master’s magna cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Abbott has served as president of chapters of the Propeller Club of the United States, Florida Public Relations Association and Society of Professional Journalists.

Abbott honed his skills on several daily newspapers, including The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, Albuquerque Journal and (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, and was editor and publisher of The County Line, a weekly newspaper he founded in suburban Richmond, Va.

A native Chicagoan, he is a member of American Mensa and an ever-optimistic fan of the Chicago Cubs.

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