While the ports of Philadelphia, Baltimore and Norfolk said operations were returning to normal following Hurricane Sandy, it appeared many facilities in the Port of New York and New Jersey will be closed at least through the weekend because of damage.
Some shipping lines announced that vessels were modifying itineraries, skipping calls, or discharging New York cargo in other ports because of the hurricane. For example, Maersk posted an update on its Website
, and among other things said the ship of a vessel partner, APL Indonesia
, was discharging cargo in Norfolk Wednesday that would be railed to Newark. Zim said one of its ships, Zim Constanza, will discharge cargo bound for New York
in Haliifax for temporary storage to await the re-opening of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Another ship, Zim Panama
, which was at anchor outside the New York/New
Jersey harbor will proceed to Halifax and then load with New York cargo
discharged from Zim Constanza
and then proceed to New York and New Jersey
provided terminals are re-opened, with the date of arrival now estimated to be Nov. 6.
Many liner companies said their offices in New York and New Jersey were closed.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Wednesday evening all terminals sustained damage to varying degrees and officials said they are in the process of assessing damage to cargo and equipment at the terminals.
"Power has not yet been restored and once it is restored the terminals can assess the operating capabilities of their equipment. Estimated time line for restoration of power is at earliest this weekend," the agency said.
Maersk Line, whose sister company APM Terminals operates one of the larger container terminals in New Jersey, said “provided that electricity can be restored, roads cleared, channel cleared and fences repaired, there is possibility some of the area terminals may be open on Friday or Saturday.”
Maersk added that refrigerated containers are all running well on genset power with plenty of fuel to continue operating and affected dry containers were minimal.
The port authority said it was surveying berths for any underwater obstructions and it's anticipated those surveys will be completed this weekend.
The Coast Guard and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration are in the process of surveying channels to ascertain any underwater obstructions.
Waterside access to the port’s channels is restricted by the Coast Guard until the surveys and any remediation actions are completed. The port authority said it anticipated the surveys will be completed by this weekend.
It added that Customs and Border Protection is assessing functionality of portable equipment presently on terminal and will test once electricity is restored. Customs examination stations (CES) are currently reviewing their operational status.
Rail service to and from the New York/New Jersey port remains suspended. Rail carriers are in the process of assessing any damages to their lines in the area impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
CSX Transportation said Wednesday afternoon it was making progress at re-opening intermodal terminals and re-establishing train service in the areas affected by the storm.
It said its Philadelphia terminal is open and service has now been restored to the South. Westbound routes out of Philadelphia are still being cleared and east/west service for the Philadelphia market remains suspended at this time. It said it will accept all outbound traffic for southern destinations, but in-gate restrictions remain in place for westbound moves.
CSX said its Little Ferry and North Bergen terminals opened at noon yesterday and service was restored to the West. Southbound routes out of New Jersey are still being cleared and north/south service for the New Jersey market remains suspended at this time. CSX will accept all outbound traffic for westbound destinations, but in-gate restrictions remain in place for southbound moves.
Norfolk Southern said rail operations are resuming where safe. The Croxton in-gate was expected to reopen late Wednesday.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said JFK International, Newark International, and Stewart International airports are open, but flights are not fully restored and vary by carrier. It said LaGuardia Airport will open both runways Thursday, but that carriers will provide limited service.
Insurance executives said there were reports of flooding at some warehouses around JFK, but that the extent of damage was unknown.
A memo from Patrick J. Ahern, vice president of New Jersey-based National Retail Systems, said his company was working around the clock, and that in addition to damage immediately at the port, many businesses and residences are without power in the state and roads are blocked with debris and trees. While major highways are open, many secondary roads have no power to stop lights, he said.
of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority said their facilities were open by 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
The agency put out a press release in which it quoted one of its board members, Capt. James Roche, president of the
Pilots Association for the Bay & River Delaware, saying “something we should point out to prospective business is that even though the eye of Hurricane Sandy
passed over the Delaware Bay, we were up and running for business river
wide before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, while the ports of New York and
Baltimore were still closed. That’s less than 24 hours after landfall. Having a port that’s 90 miles from the sea is not such a
bad thing. It’s not all that far for vessels to easily reach us, but
far enough to protect us from events like this.”
"Many communities were not as lucky as we have been, and outreach efforts have begun to get assistance to friends and customers in whatever way possible," said Leo Holt, president of Holt Logistics Corp., which represents the operators of the two terminals including the Packer Avenue Terminal in Philadelphia. "Emergency crews spent the storm bunkered in and reported the progress of the storm. We were glad to report only minor damages and are up and running."
Rick Bridges, a vice president at the cargo insurer Roanoke, said "it's too soon to quantify the cargo losses due to Sandy, but we are sure there will be some significant losses.
"What we can say is that plenty of containers were underwater at various ports and those unlucky ones at the bottom of the stack will likely have water in them as the door seals only work so well. Think water resistant not water proof," he said. "Those most unlucky will be the shippers who floor load instead of using pallets. There are reports of several containers floating and submerged, but my guess is that those are empties that blew of the tops of the stacks."
Flooding is likely to have damaged cargo in warehouses near the port or airports, or even in Manhattan. For example, his firm was trying to get information about a $1.5 million printing press that was being stored in a Manhattan building about a block from the Hudson River while awaiting installation.
Bridges said "shippers will find out just how good their cargo insurance policy is. I compare cargo insurance to a mattress. You dont know how good it is until you use it. With an unregulated line of insurance like cargo insurance shippers who bought on price may find coverage lacking. Some common limitations that lesser policies have are limited coverage at the port (just 15 days) and no coverage to pay for packing (think direct to retail packaging and wet cardboard). Those with a well built policy will sleep easy knowing they don't have a 15-day quayside limitation and may be able to air freight replacement components even though the original shipment was sent ocean.
"From an insurance marketplace perspective it is already speculated that Sandy will drive up reinsurance costs for property insurance in the U.S., which includes cargo insurance," Bridges said. "As reinsurance costs rise, so do primary insurance costs, and with a relatively soft market it will likely be as early as Q1 for expected rate hikes at renewal".
Bridges said shippers that have experienced a Sandy-related loss should document the claim.
"Don't dispose of or try and repair cargo without your insurer's written consent, and get all documentation for that shipment to your insurer," he said. "The No. 1 cause for delays in paying claims is lack of proper documentation. A cargo policy should also cover any demmurrage charges accrued while you are waiting for the insurance company's surveyor to arrive." - Chris Dupin