Port Of Gulfport On Fast Recovery Track - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Port Of Gulfport On Fast Recovery Track

Nothing sits idle at the Port of Gulfport. Katrina interrupted phase one of the 60 acre expansion on the port's west side, but in June crews got back to pushing dirt. 

Port Director Don Allee says, "That will be a container staging area for ships. Hurricane Katrina delayed that project a little bit, but we've been back to the preparation mode now for about two months and that project will quickly get back on task."

Container ships began sailing back into the port just three weeks after the hurricane. 

"It wasn't a perfect world, but it did work and we demonstrated that. The Port of Gulfport was back up and running within three weeks."

All three of the container companies are back on their regular schedules. But the port still can't store cargo that requires temperature control like frozen poultry. Allee says it may be a while before a freezer warehouse goes up.

"I'm committed to see us make dynamic improvements within the next 36 to 60 months. But you and I know just from the experience of Katrina that it's probably a longer process than that. I can assure you we're coming back as quickly as we can."

One port commissioner hopes that means coming back with even more business. 

Port Commissioner Lenny Sawyer says, "The garment industry, the textile industry in Central America is just booming and Crowley's using our port for a good bit of that and hopefully we'll get another ship in the future."

Another ship will put more people to work in a port that Allee is happy to say is on the fast track to post hurricane success.

Before the storm, the port shipped out about 200,000 tons of frozen chickens and some beef each year. And even after all the damage,  Allee says the port is still the top banana when it comes to banana imports in the Gulf of Mexico.

by Marcia Hill

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