Impact of Harvey flooding ripples through logistics networks

Logistics impacts from flooding in Houston and other parts of southeast Texas continue to spread as shippers and transportation providers cope with a regional interruption in port, truck, rail, and air freight shipment.


Port Houston said its terminals, which shut at mid-day last Friday in advance of Hurricane Harvey, will remain closed Wednesday. The ports of Corpus Christi, Freeport, and Galveston, Texas, also are closed. The Coast Guard said the channels at the ports of Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, remained open despite heavy rains in the area. Farther east, the Port of New Orleans was operating normally.

The Port of Corpus Christi, which handles breakbulk shipments of wind energy and project cargo in addition to petroleum and chemicals, was repairing “light to moderate” damage and working to restore power to its facilities and said it hopes to resume normal operations by next Monday, Sept. 4.

Before the port can reopen to vessel traffic, its channel must be cleared and declared safe. An oil drilling ship broke from its moorings Saturday, sank a tugboat, and beached in the ship channel’s entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. The 449-foot-long drilling ship is owned by Houston-based Paragon Offshore.

Houston handles more than two-thirds of US Gulf container traffic, with more than 1 million laden TEU during the first half of this year. The port also is a center for oil and petrochemical shipments and breakbulk and project cargo port, and is the primary regional management center for ocean carriers.

Port Houston has taken a day-to-day approach to reopening its container and breakbulk terminals. Terminals and nearby warehouses reportedly sustained little damage, but the port cannot return to full operation until the Coast Guard certifies that channels are safe and until flooding in surrounding areas subsides so that employees can return to work.

Container lines have been waiting and hoping port terminals will reopen soon, but are starting to adjust schedules in response to the port shutdown and have warned customers that cargo will be delayed.

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