Louisiana Ports Prepare for Hurricane Delta

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U.S. Coast Guard crew members set up flood barriers in preparation for Hurricane Delta at Coast Guard Station Venice, Louisiana, October 6

Published Oct 8, 2020 4:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

As Hurricane Delta approaches the Louisiana coast, the U.S. Coast Guard is implementing plans to secure ports in the storm's path. The Captain of the Port for Port Arthur has implemented port condition Yankee for Beaumont, Port Arther, Orange and Sabine, Texas, along with the port of Lake Charles, Louisiana. 

Oceangoing merchant vessels have been advised to prepare to depart these ports immediately, and any that plan to remain must request approval from the captain of the port. Smaller vessels in the Sabine and Calcasieu Lake waterways are cautioned to seek shelter further inland on the Sabine-Neches Waterway or the Calcasieu River. Dredging operations must begin shutting down, removing equipment from waterways - including dredge spoil pipelines - and seeking sheltered mooring locations. 

The captain of the port is not currently shutting down cargo operations or vessel movements, but further restrictions are expected at 2000 hours on Thursday. 

Near Houma, Louisiana, the Intracoastal Waterway's Leland Bowman Locks have closed, and the Bayou Sorrel, Berwick and Bayou Boeuf Locks are scheduled to close soon. Further east, the captain of the port for New Orleans has ordered the enforcement of hurricane preparedness plans for the area's inland waterways. An evacuation order is in effect for Michoud Canal, the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC) and nearby sections of the Intracoastal Waterway. All vessels must evacuate the covered areas unless they are moored at a facility with an approved hurricane plan. The COTP is not currently planning on implementing a safety zone for river evacuation below Mississippi River milepost MM 73. 

Hurricane Delta should arrive in Louisiana by late Friday, bringing a storm surge of up to 11 feet in areas near Port Fourchon. A storm surge warning is in effect from High Island, Texas all the way to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. At the time of landfall, Delta will likely be a Category 2 storm, with winds in the range of 100 miles per hour. Tropical storm force winds will arrive well before the storm's center, the National Hurricane Center warned, and dangerous wind levels could reach the northern Gulf Coast by sunrise on Friday. 

Search and rescue assets are an important consideration after a major storm, and for Hurricane Delta the Coast Guard has pre-staged eight helicopters, four fixed-wing aircraft and seven Shallow Water Response Teams with more than 20 boats. “We are prepared, we’re ready, we understand what we need to do and how we need to do it,” said Capt. Will Watson, commander of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans. "Planning and pre-staging resources from other areas is just one example of how we are preparing for Hurricane Delta."

Preparing shallow water response boats at Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Paducah, Kentucky, October 6, 2020