Catastrophic flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey is expected to cause huge amounts of disruption to shipping after persistent rain and strong winds battered the US state of Texas after making landfall on Friday night (Agust 25, 2017).
Seaports in Houston and Corpus Christi will take almost a week to recover after flood waters recede enough to allow dockworkers back into ports and trucks to resume normal routes.
Damage to highways and railroad tracks is likely to cause delays to the movement of freight from the ships scheduled to stop in Houston, now anchored in the Gulf of Mexico.
Port Houston appears to have avoided major damage, but carriers are warning that they will be waiting offshore even after the weather clears as flooded roads will keep dockworkers from reaching the port and trucks from carrying cargo out.
Trucking fleets, railroads and shipping lines have been trying to reroute freight and set up alternate supply lines to combat the aftermath of the storm.
The storm will continue to linger over the Texas coast until later this week.
Port Houston announced that the “continued threat of inclement weather” meant that closure of its facilities will be continuing into today (August 29, 2017), while Port of Corpus Christi Authority reported that it would achieve “normal operation” by September 4, 2017.
In an update yesterday, Port of Corpus Christi Authority said it had transitioned to “Post Storm Recovery” as part of its Port Hurricane Readiness Plan.
Its statement added: “Port personnel are continuing to assess hurricane impacts with initial assessments indicating light to moderate damage and debris.
“The Port has begun to recall Tier 2 Essential Personnel to support the recovery operations.
“Power has been restored to several facilities and numerous others are still on emergency power including the PCCA EOC, Security Command Center and Harbor Master’s Office.
These facilities have maintained continuous uninterrupted power.”
— NWS Corpus Christi (@NWSCorpus) August 28, 2017
Analysts are predicting that the storm will cause tens of billions in lost economic activity and property damage due to the region being crucial to the energy, chemical and shipping industries.
As well as container carriers, oil tankers and cruise ships are also waiting to be serviced at the state’s ports.
US fuel prices surged today as more Gulf Coast refiners cut output and a third considered reductions, leaving more than 13% of the country’s refining capacity offline after the storm flooded plants and shut seaports.
Nearly half of the exports from Houston consist of resins, plastics, chemicals and minerals, while major imports flowing through the port include food, construction materials, machinery and retail consumer goods.
There may be further delays to come as the Houston ship channel could be made swallower due to rising levels of silt.
The Federal Maritime Commission has offered its support to shippers.
In a public statement, the FMC said: “The Federal Maritime Commission reminds all ocean carriers and shippers impacted by Hurricane Harvey that its Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS) can be of assistance in the aftermath of the storm.
“While other federal agencies have primary jurisdiction and responsibility for relief and recovery efforts, the Commission through CADRS can facilitate solutions to commercial disagreements that might impede the resumption of cargo flow.”
— Bloomberg (@business) August 29, 2017