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Port Officials and Legislators Want to Get Shipping Facilities Running After Flood

By Daniel Cherry | Published 26 May 2011 09:42am | comments

The flood on the Mississippi River has forced shutdowns and major cutbacks at six ports. MPB's Daniel Cherry has details on a meeting between shipping officials and state legislators aimed at getting the facilities back on line.

Most of the ports along the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers are still dealing with massive flooding at their facilities. Billy Broomfield is the House Ports Committee Chairman. He says planning ahead before the water drops is crucial to speeding up the reopening process.

"We've got to understand that this has affected a lot of lives. People cannot pay their bills. It's our hope that we can make sure once the water recedes, those people who depend on that for their livelihood can get back to the degree that they're accustomed to."

The ports employ thousands of workers directly and many thousand more indirectly. Every day the ports are shut down those people are taking a hit. Greenville port director Tommy Hart says he wants to get the port back up and running as soon as possible.

"The long and the short of it is, we're slowing down the recovery trying to make these determinations. We want the recovery to be as fast as possible because that supplies businesses in the region. It employs people, and the quicker we can get these things resolved the better off everyone will be."

Hart estimates it's going to be late June before they'll be able to reopen. Vicksburg port Director Wayne Mansfield says to become operational, the port is going to need some help from the state.

"I don't know if we can put a value on it until we can get in and inspect our facilities and inspect our infrastructure, but certainly it begins with funding. Rehabilitation, reconstruction of our infrastructure, our dock facilities, our rail facilities, our roads, our bridges. That's going to be the significant part."

The pricetag of the port closures is likely to be in the millions. The legislators say they're looking into grants and no interest loans to help the ports rebuild.

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