Just before noon on August 29, Hurricane Ida crashed ashore at Port Fourchon, La. Its 150 mph winds made it the fifth-strongest storm to hit the U.S. on record—and after causing devastation across Louisiana and Mississippi, it went on across the country to cause lethal flooding in the Northeast.
At the time of this writing, recovery efforts were still underway and it appears that post-storm disruptions may be prolonged.
Many marine industry operations have been impacted—including Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas operations, shipyards, ports, and the inland waterways industry.
In one incident related to the storm was a 22-barge breakaway. There was also an earlier report of a ferry breaking away from its moorings. Those incidents were ones that made the news, however, there were other vessels that wound up in different places after the storm than they were when it began.
This isn’t the first time a hurricane has caused a barge breakaway.
Several barges broke loose during Hurricane Gustav in 2008. They ran aground causing millions of dollars in damage.
Currently, transit delays along the waterways in the path of Hurricane Ida are to be expected well into this month as boats, fleets, terminals and shipyards recover from the hurricane.
As parts of the eastern U.S. were still dealing with the lingering but still damaging effects of the remnants of Ida, recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast area continue. Many maritime operations in the region report that they are currently in the recovery mode, including Edison Chouest Offshore, Bollinger Shipyards and ports in the region.
There are still many waterway restrictions in place, including a Captain of the Port order that implements a temporary safety zone on the Lower Mississippi River between miles 105 and 108 above Head of Passes in effect through September 30 or until salvage operations and has been imposed because of the safety hazards associated with electrical transmission lines posing a risk of electric shock in the waterway.
The Coast Guard said it would continue to work with port partners on the identification and mitigation of grounded and submerged vessels along banks of the Lower Mississippi River.
With storms like this estimated to become more frequent and intense due to climate change, infrastructure has to be hardened to withstand them. In the not so long-term, we have to realize that decarbonization is not just a word—it’s a necessary public policy priority.