Port shutdown costs country hundreds of millions of dollars



Posted on August 31, 2012 at 7:25 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 31 at 7:41 PM

Mike Perlstein / Eyewitness News
Email: mperlstein@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mperlstein

NEW ORLEANS -- Isaac caused problems for some one cruise line sailing out of New Orleans this week.

That was just one of the issues port officials had to deal with.

The port of New Orleans re-opened Friday after being closed since Monday due to Hurricane Isaac. Nine container ships have been waiting to get to the port to unload their cargo, but the first ship they're letting back in the port is the Carnival cruise ship Elation, with more than 2,000 eager passengers ready to disembark.


The ship was delayed almost two days waiting for the river to re-open, sailing between Mobile and New Orleans until getting the all-clear. Not all passengers were pleased with the bonus time on the boat.

"After being on the boat and not really having coverage of the local storm, you really wanted to get back, but once you understand it's out of your control you just pretty much ride with the waves," said cruise ship passenger Bruce Walker.

Behind the Elation, the nine container ships were waiting to unload as soon as power was restored to the Napoleon Avenue container terminal.

New Orleans Coast Guard Captain Peter Gautier said Isaac presented many serious challenges, including the unmooring of more than 50 barges.

"The storm wallopped the Mississippi River. It ran for a 48-hour period up the west side of the river. We had a storm surge of 10 feet here for a 24-hour period," said Coast Guard Capt. Peter Gautier.

Port President Gary LaGrange said the closure of the river cost the country $300 million in commerce a day over the four days of the storm and its aftermath.