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Effects of Port Closures Could Trickle Down to Consumers

By Daniel Cherry | Published 18 May 2011 03:46pm | comments

The record flooding in the Mississippi River has the potential to hurt some of the state's most important shipping areas. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how businesses are coping with the high water.

The port of Vicksburg is the 11th most active in the nation, but now, the rail lines inside the port are covered with water. Port Director Wayne Mansfield says it's costing the port about 400 thousand dollars.

"But it's more significant than that. The fact that we can't move products through here forces companies to find alternative routes which has a potential to increase costs for them and also delays shipping."

Vicksburg has the only rail crossing over the river between Memphis and Baton Rouge. Kenneth Dillard with Ergon refining says they're now having to truck their product to Jackson where it's loaded on trains.

"We have many customers who are sole source to us and so a slowdown like this...if we can't get any product out to them then they could have a slowdown or a shutdown so it's very important we do everything we can to get product out to them."

Dillard says every day is now a huge cost to Ergon. A rail car carries about 4 truckloads of freight and a barge holds about 15 rail cars. Dillard says trucks are running 16 hours a day to keep up. While the flood is costing some...others are making the best of a bad situation. Ronnie Tyler of Tyler Printing says they're in a sightseeing hotspot so they printed shirts saying I survived the 2011 flood.

"Just taking advantage of the moment. What's going to happen in three weeks when this is over with. I don't know if the tourists will still come or not so I'm just soaking up the tears and laughing."

The river is expected to crest today in Vicksburg and one thing is for sure. The longer shipping is hindered in the Mississippi the more likely costs will trickle down to consumers.

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