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Cargo, rail operations wind down at Port of New Orleans ahead of storm

New York — Cargo terminals within the Port of New Orleans and New Orleans Public Belt Railroad were ceasing operations at noon CDT Thursday, as personnel and terminal operators finished storm preparedness procedures in anticipation of severe weather that is currently associated with Tropical Storm Barry.

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The Port of New Orleans is a major steel and nonferrous metals trade hub that also handles other breakbulk cargo such as rubber, wood, paper, plastics and other commodities.

"Everything is starting to wind down as of now," Jessica Ragusa, communications manager, said in an email at 1:45 pm EDT. "One of our breakbulk operators is working until 3 pm [CDT] because they are beyond the floodgate and our rail is working until COB today to finish up some preparations."

"We are coordinating with our local, state and federal partners, such as the US Coast Guard, US Army Corps of Engineers, Flood Protection Authority and our pilot associations, along with our tenants and customers to ensure we are as prepared as we can be," Brandy Christian, president and the CEO of the Port of New Orleans, said in a statement.

Gates at the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal closed by noon Thursday. Due to planned floodgate closures, the terminal will remain closed Friday, but this is subject to change based on conditions. NOPB was operating with limited crews Thursday.

The Associated Branch Pilots, which pilot ships into the Mississippi River, handled its last outbound vessel at 12:30 pm Wednesday, and its last inbound vessel at noon to avoid dangerous conditions, the port said.

The final phase of the port's storm plan is to ensure key operations and security personnel are in place, remove potential hazards from wharves and secure all floating equipment, its statement noted. Operations along the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal ceased at 6 pm Wednesday because of floodgate closures. Access to properties along the IHNC will be limited until weather conditions improve and the floodgates are reopened.

-- Joe Innace,

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson,