The U.S. Coast Guard plans to assess the Lower Mississippi River Thursday morning and work with pilot organizations to determine when to open the tributary to commercial traffic following Hurricane Isaac.
Any determination must await soundings of the channel conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers to check whether the storm changed the channel's draft and the presence of debris, according to the Port of New Orleans.
Port officials said they hope to resume normal operations by the weekend. The port only received some minor wind damage.
There are nine general cargo ships awaiting entry to the port.
Isaac is a slow-moving storm that has dumped lots of rain and caused power outages in Gulf states like Louisiana.
Meanwhile, freight rail traffic normally routed through New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., has been diverted to avoid flooding and high wind and local service to those areas has been suspended. Customers with shipments moving through the region should expect delays
CSX Transportation said delays on its network could be at least 72 hours. It said rail service to South Florida has resumed, but customers can expect some delays as the backlog of cars is cleared. - Eric Kulisch