Hurricane Harvey wreaks havoc on Gulf Coast
By Elizabeth Landrum / American Shipper
Hurricane Harvey struck Texas this past weekend as a category 4 storm, later dropping to a category 3, wreaking havoc on local supply chains.
The Port of Houston announced it would be closed on Mon., August 28 “due to the continued threat of inclement weather.” Whether operations will resume on Tuesday has yet to be determined, the port said.
Danish ocean carrier Maersk Line informed customers that two of its vessels have been delayed by the storm – the Maersk Ohio and the Maersk Denver, sailing on the TA1 and MECL services, respectively. Maersk Line estimates the ships will enter the Port of Houston on Wednesday, pending labor availability.
The Port of Corpus Christi, just west of Houston, sustained moderate damage from the storm, prompting the U.S. Coast Guard to maintain “Condition Zulu” for all port channels, meaning the port will remain closed until further notice. Class I railroad BNSF has also been affected, primarily from flood waters caused by the sustained, heavy rains Harvey brought with it. Houston and areas throughout southeastern Texas are currently experiencing service disruptions as many interstates are closed.
BNSF’s Houston (Pearland) Intermodal and Automotive facilities are open, but the current road conditions are preventing any cargo from reaching the facilities, the railway said in a statement. As a result, train loading and unloading operations are currently suspended and “customers should expect continued delays on shipments scheduled to move through the area,” BNSF said.
Both Houston airports were also closed on Sunday and will remain as such for the time being, though several airlines have aided in evacuating those stranded due to flooding.
Oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico shut down ahead of Hurricane Harvey, causing supply chain disruptions, as many fuel stations around the U.S. Gulf Coast region ran out of gasoline before the storm made landfall. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) loosened gasoline specifications to reduce shortages throughout the weekend, according to multiple sources.
More than 45 percent of the country’s refining capacity is along the U.S. Gulf Coast, and nearly a fifth of the nation’s crude is produced offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly 15 percent of U.S. fuel-making capacity, or 2 million barrels per day, were affected by the oil refinery shutdowns, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
“The recovery to this event is going to last many years to be able to help Texas and the people impacted by this event achieve a new normal,” said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director William “Brock” Long. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Experts expect supply chains to rebound fairly quickly once roads and ports reopen, but the region is bracing for several more days of epic rains, pushing back any prospects for recovery.”
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