Key ports and highways across the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast remain closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.
All Port Houston offices and terminals were closed Thursday, according to the port’s website. The Port of Beaumont in southeast Texas will be closed until Monday, according to a statement, and the Port of Galveston in Texas remains closed through Friday.
The Port of Corpus Christi in Texas was open and operating normally Thursday, according to its staff.
Calls to the nearby seaport in Port Arthur, Texas, went unanswered. It wasn’t known if the port was open or sustained damage in the storm.
Officials with Crane Worldwide Logistics said Port Houston was lucky not to sustain any serious damage from the hurricane.
“Where we have operations, we hardly had any rain,” Chad Taylor, executive vice president of global operations for Houston-based Crane Worldwide Logistics told FreightWaves/American Shipper. “If the storm had come into Houston as a Category 4, it could have been extremely bad for us.”
The Port of New Orleans’ cargo terminals were operating normally Thursday morning, according to its website. Louisiana’s Port of Baton Rouge also was open for business Thursday, its staff said.
The Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast is the center of the U.S. oil and gas refining system and Gulf of Mexico crude oil production, according to Ben Ruddell, director of the FEWSION project at Northern Arizona University.
“The storm could have a serious impact on oil and gas refining operations across the region,” Ruddell said in a release.
The Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast region accounts for roughly $1 trillion a year in economic production — much of that concentrated in the fuel sector, Ruddell said.
Ports along the Texas Gulf Coast – including Corpus Christi, Galveston, Houston, and Beaumont – also accounts for 23% of wheat exports, 1.5% of corn exports, and 0.5% of soybean exports, according to the Iowa-based Soy Transportation Coalition (STC).
The export facilities along the lower Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and the Gulf of Mexico also account for 60% of soybean exports, 59% of corn exports, and 15% of wheat exports, according to the STC.
Major roadways across the Gulf Coast also continue to be affected by Hurricane Laura.
The eastbound lane of I-10 remained closed at the Texas/Louisiana state line Thursday, and I-10 westbound was closed west of the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana.
To detour the closure, motorists should use U.S. Highway 61, Interstate 55 and Interstate 59 and travel north to connect with Interstate 20, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
However, DOTD officials cautioned that motorists should stay home if possible.
“We have been getting calls about the Interstate and if it’s open. I know we have power lines down along Interstate-10 in southwest Louisiana and on Interstate-49 in Alexandria. Now is not the time to travel and site see damage,” DTOD Secretary Shawn Wilson tweeted Thursday morning.
A chemical plant in Sulphur, Louisiana, caught fire Thursday morning sending thick orange and white smoke billowing into the air over I-10, according to reports. Sulphur is located just off I-10, around 24 miles from the Texas-Louisiana state line.
Both major airports in Houston are operating normally and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport reported little impact from the storm.