LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - It’s a huge part of the local economy and both Hurricanes Laura and Delta hurled major blows to the Port of Lake Charles.
“We had really significant losses primarily with Hurricane Laura...salvaging some vessels that sunk at the docks at city docks and then tarping cargo and then re-tarping after Hurricane Delta hit," said Port Executive Director Richert Self.
The Port of Lake Charles has declared a state of emergency following damage received by Hurricane Delta as of Oct. 13, 2020.
“Anytime we declare an emergency, in a situation where there’s a hurricane, we have to prevent further loss both in terms of property and economic loss to the port and our customers," said Self.
According to the declaration, damage to the port that was originally received during Hurricane Larua was exacerbated during Hurricane Delta.
“For the most part, we have just about everybody back and we’re handling cargo," Self said. "The rice is being delivered to city docks. It’s not as efficient as we were before because we’re working with solutions that weren’t as efficient as what we had.”
Self says along with damage done to 2 of the ports ship loaders and unloaders...traffic had also been restricted along the Calcasieu Ship Channel. The Calcasieu Ship Channel that serves the port is open, but traffic has been restricted to vessels with a maximum draft of 30 feet, as opposed to the normal 40 feet.
"Those aren’t things you can just buy off the shelf. So, we’re going to have normal operations relatively quickly except for the fact that we’ll have to get new loaders and ship loaders.
Equipment he says could take nearly 2 years to replace.
As a result, the declaration signed by Executive Director Richert L. Self says repairs will need to be immediately made to the port which will require them to suspend normal public bid law procedures for construction and purchasing of certain supplies and materials.
While Self admits it will take a lot of time to get back to the normal workflow, he’s confident that with local and federal help they’ll get there and hopefully before another major economic loss.
“We’ll surpass the amount of insurance we have in place. Thankfully our board has been very good and the legislative board has been very supportive.”