This occurred despite the loss of the port’s facilities along the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MR-GO), due to serious flood and wind damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Its Mississippi River facilities received only wind damage to transit sheds and warehouses.
Though much has been accomplished, much remains to be done. MR-GO has an authorised project depth of 36 ft (11 m) but silting reduced this to 21 ft (6.4 m) following Katrina. Congress has asked the US Army Corps of Engineers to study closing the waterway to deep-draught traffic, and the port is seeking federal funding to relocate or subsidise deep-draught shipping that can no longer use it. Tenants would be relocated to other Port of New Orleans sites along the Mississippi River, which do not have flood control issues.
“We are working diligently to ensure the port is made whole again,” said port president Gary LaGrange. “We must secure funding to mitigate the businesses along the MR-GO, which invested millions of dollars on the promise of deep-water access. Some 9,000 jobs with a $2.29 billion economic impact were located there.”
Another encouraging sign for the port is the forthcoming revival of the Crescent City’s cruise industry. This fall, New Orleans will begin welcoming back four cruise vessels that had their home port there before the hurricane.