The Port of New Orleans is putting out the call nationally to attract truckers to haul cargo in and out of New Orleans and to help rebuild the economy of the Crescent City.

Under normal pre-Katrina conditions, the Port would have about 1,000 truck drivers hauling 1,500 truck loads on a very busy day. After Katrina, about 150 drivers are estimated to be working in the Port of New Orleans and they are making about 450 truck hauls per day.

Many New Orleans area truck drivers lost their homes, rigs or both during Hurricane Katrina. Some have relocated to other parts of the country. There was an estimated shortage of 20,000 truck drivers nationwide before Katrina, and the storm’s impact on fuel prices has not helped the situation. Meanwhile, the local supply of truck drivers has been further diminished by the massive federal trash hauling efforts in New Orleans.

‘The people of the City of New Orleans and the surrounding areas are working tirelessly to rebuild their lives, their communities and this economy,’ LaGrange said. ‘Drivers who want to be a part of rebuilding of this great city and this region would be welcomed with open arms. Many trucking companies are putting together very competitive packages for qualified drivers.’

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the first signs of commerce in the New Orleans Metro Area emerged along a wharf at the foot of Napoleon Avenue barely two weeks after our nation’s worst natural disaster.

Through a coordinated effort by C-River Logistics and Coastal Cargo Company, the Port of New Orleans resumed commercial operations on Sept. 12 when steel coils were moved by barge to the Hyundai plant in Greenville, Ala. A day later, CP Ships brought in the Lykes Flyer, the first commercial cargo ship to arrive since the storm. P&O Ports successfully worked the ship and in the process helped its employees achieve a sense of normalcy during a time little could be found.

Since those early days of life after Katrina, port cargo levels have experienced steady progress. Today, port operations at the world’s third largest port have achieved nearly 45 percent of pre-storm levels, with 17 ships calling the Port last week.

Approximately 70% of cargo that comes into or out of the Port of New Orleans is handled by truck. Literally hundreds of truck drivers from south Louisiana lost their trucks, their homes and some lost their lives.

Due to these factors, drivers with a commercial drivers license and owner/operators are in high demand to make local and regional deliveries in the New Orleans area.

Free housing is being offered to drivers by many transportation firms, and the Port can help drivers who haul Port cargo obtain housing aboard federal Maritime Administration ships docked along the Mississippi River.

Interested drivers are encouraged to contact the Louisiana Motor Transport Association at (225) 928-5682.