Sandy helps port set recordPublished 9:20am Wednesday, November 14, 2012
BY MATTHEW WARD/SUFFOLK NEWS-HERALD
NORFOLK—During the weeklong closure of the Port of New York and New Jersey due to Superstorm Sandy, the Port of Virginia handled up to 6,500 additional import containers, according to the Virginia Port Authority.
The authority said Virginia’s port is no longer receiving cargo diverted from the northeast hub.
In addition to the extra between 5,800 and 6,500 containers, 3,500 New York and New Jersey-bound automobiles were also offloaded in Virginia.
“We’re extremely busy dealing with the backlog of cargo, and it is going to take some time to get completely back to normal,” said Rodney Oliver, the authority’s interim executive director. “We are working to move the cargo to its destination by any means available: truck, rail and barge.”
Port officials said that the majority of extra cargo will probably move to the Northeast by rail, due to “multiple challenges” for motor carriers headed that way.
Two ocean carriers were to use Columbia Coastal Transport to move more than 1,200 containers to New York/New Jersey and Philadelphia by barge, according to the release.
“We also have the ability to do additional voyages as needed in an effort to alleviate any congestion in Norfolk,” Joe Villa, vice president of operations for Columbia Coastal, stated.
Port officials said Wednesday that about 1,400 of the extra containers already had been sent out, but they could not say when terminals would be cleared of diverted cargo.
Amid the storm scramble, the Port of Virginia says it set a record for the most container moves on and off a vessel.
On Nov. 2, at APM Terminals in Portsmouth, 4,736, containers, mostly imports, were reportedly loaded on and offloaded from the Axel Maersk.
“We were tested last week, and it was not a test of our ability to handle cargo, rather it was a show of what we are capable of, and what we did during those few days on such short notice is a testament to planning, teamwork, communication and a willingness to get the job done,” said Joe Dorto, president of port operator Virginia International Terminals.