Port Houston’s container terminals have reopened for business following the extreme weather caused by Hurricane Harvey, although vessel movements remain restricted and operations remain far from normal.
Port Commission chairman Janiece Longoria announced that Port Houston would reopen its terminals for business on Friday 1 September, noting: “Although vessel movements remain restricted because of swift current in the channel from continued significant inflows, it is important to resume landside receipt and delivery of containers at our terminals in advance of commencement of vessel operations.
“Opening our terminals also reinforces the messages of Mayor Turner and Judge Emmett that it is important to resume normal operations as soon as practicable.”
Longoria also expressed her appreciation for the “extraordinary efforts and steady leadership of county and city officials in addressing the devastating and unprecedented impacts from Hurricane Harvey”. She also lauded Port Houston staff, maritime industry members, and port community members “for their extraordinary volunteerism”.
Port Houston executive director Roger Guenther commented: “Employees are onsite, facilities are back online, and we are ready to operate. We are restarting this economic engine again to power the region, state, and nation.”
He said Port Houston’s Barbours Cut and Bayport Container Terminals would be open from Friday 1 September for truck operations from 7am to 5pm, with Turning Basin Terminal also be open for truck operations during the same times.
According to US news organization NPR, Guenther said that although the port’s cargo facilities received minimal damage, “It’s all about the tremendous amount of water that's being dumped into the channel.” It reported that Houston’s shipping channel would have to be surveyed for debris and other navigation hazards before it is cleared to reopen. How long that will take is uncertain, but after Hurricane Ike, it took one week for the port to resume operations, reported NPR.
In terms of damage of flooding of terminal equipment or containers, the port said there was “no evidence of flooding on terminal; no visible damage to containers, cranes, or other terminal equipment”, and “no evidence of container or terminal damage due to the storm”.
For requests to schedule an inspection of customers’ container, the port said damage inspections should be coordinated offsite.
As to whether the port will extend free time, PHA said: “Per the PHA tariff, free time is provided to the shipping line for each container. PHA is extending the free time for all imports that were on the yard at Bayport or Barbours Cut on 25 August. Storage will not be included for the dates of 25 August through 4 September. Please confirm your last free day with the shipping line directly.”