News Column

Hampton Roads Resuming Operations After Sandy

Oct. 30, 2012

Robert McCabe, The Virginian-Pilot

The port of Hampton Roads is gradually resuming full operations after Hurricane Sandy, though it was never technically shut down, said Bill Cofer, president of the Virginia Pilot Association, whose members guide vessels in and out of the port.

"We've got 16 vessels anchored at Cape Charles anchorage," Cofer said, including nine that are waiting to leave the port. They include the cruise ship Enchantment of the Seas, which had left Baltimore and was in the Atlantic Ocean when Sandy forced it to head back to Virginia for safety.

"One by one, they're coming out as we speak," Cofer said early this afternoon.

The first in-bound ship -- the MOL Express -- was scheduled to dock at Norfolk International Terminals about 2:30 this afternoon.

"We're very fortunate," said Joe Harris, spokesman for the Virginia Port Authority. "We got through with some standing water and a few shingles missing here and there, but we're in good shape. We're back to work."

Cofer said the Coast Guard, in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers, was assessing the harbor channels, working to make sure that all buoys and navigational markers were positioned properly and that no debris or shoaling had affected shipping channels.

Shoaling can occur in big storms, when high winds and shifting currents can change the underwater landscape, creating sandbars.

Norfolk Southern said its Lamberts Point coal-transloading facility, closed since 6 a.m. Sunday, was expected to be open by late this afternoon.

The railroad is in the process of assessing its entire network and restoring train service, said Robin Chapman, a Norfolk Southern spokesman, adding that delays of up to 72 hours were possible for some customers.

"We've had some minor flooding in the affected areas, but we expect that to subside by this afternoon," Chapman said. "We're dealing with a power line down across our tracks near Cleveland, but we expect that to be cleared by noon. During the meantime, we're re-routing trains around that area. We're also working to clear snow in western Virginia and West Virginia."

Source: (c)2012 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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