Hurricane Matthew caused the southeastern US ports more headaches than dollars. Reopening on Monday after closing early in preparation for the weather system, few damages were reported from Hampton Roads to Port Everglades. Though the storm caused more than 1,000 deaths in Haiti and severely damaged the Bahamas, Matthew caused ports from Miami to Norfolk to halt operations in preparation of the storm. As of this morning, all ports are re-opening with initial assessments reporting no major damage, apart from widespread cleanup work from wind debris, electricity outages and road flooding.
The US Coast Guard said vessel traffic at the ports of Savannah and Brunswick remained closed Monday. Deep-draft traffic to Wilmington, North Carolina, is still restricted to daylight hours. The ports of Charleston and at Fernandina Beach, Florida, are open to full operation, but the Coast Guard urged vessels to operate cautiously while navigation aids are inspected. Normal vessel traffic was restored Monday at the Port of Virginia.
Most ports were able to minimize damage to equipment and vessels by taking precautions against wind and rain damage. Container stacks were kept low, cranes were secured from the wind and vessel schedules were reduced. Once the storm passed, very little damage, apart from blown debris and flooding stalled any work and ports were able to get up and running immediately. Norfolk Southern Railway has advised customers that services to Jacksonville, Savanah and Charleston are all restored and they are now working to restore service around the flooded areas of the Port of Virginia.