Waterways reopening after Gustav

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Some early damage assessments have come in from the Gulf Coast area since Hurricane Gustav made landfall Monday, and a number of waterways have reopened to vessel traffic.

Trinity Yachts reported no damage to its Gulfport, Miss., shipyard and minimal damage at its New Orleans yard. The Gulfport facility is at full operation, and the company expects the New Orleans yard to return to full production Friday.

“We are very relieved not to have had to go through the headaches of [Hurricane] Katrina again,” said Felix Sabates, chairman of Trinity Yachts, in a statement. “Our plans of continued growth and expansion for 2008-’09 are still on track as originally expected.”

Gustav made landfall slightly west of New Orleans, and with improvements made to the levee system since Hurricane Katrina, there was less damage than expected in the New Orleans area, the custom yacht builder reported. With the exception of an interruption of some utilities, most of the city — as well as the Trinity yard at the New Orleans Industrial Canal — sustained minor damage.

“The experience of weathering Hurricane Katrina three years ago was invaluable, and I have to say a word of thanks to our employees who executed our new and improved emergency plans for such future issues,” Sabates said. “Once these were implemented, we had a very good starting point with which to get the two Trinity shipyards back in full operation quickly.”

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard said a number of ports and waterways have reopened in the region. These include New Orleans; Panama City and Pensacola in Florida; and Houston, Galveston, Freeport, Port Arthur and Texas City in Texas. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway also is open from Pensacola to Texas, but the Coast Guard cautions that some aids to navigation must be repaired or replaced.

Several other waterways were reported to be open, but with restrictions. Mobile, Ala., has a draft restriction of 15 feet or less; the Port of Gulfport, Miss., has a restriction of 28 feet or less; the Port of Pascagoula, Miss., has a restriction of 12 feet or less; and Lake Charles in Louisiana is restricted to drafts of 33 feet or less. Morgan City, La., remained closed to vessel traffic yesterday.

— Melanie Winters
m.winters@tradeonlytoday.com

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