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Photo of dredge pumping steady stream of sediment from docks on Berwick Bay after Flood waters of 2011 receded

The years of 2010 and 2011 were challenging years for the Port of Morgan City area. In 2010, the BP oil spill wreaked havoc through-out the Oil Industry, an industry which the economy of the Port of Morgan City is heavily reliant upon. Then, just when a recovery was in sight, along came the high water event of 2011. With the threat of the 2011 flood surpassing the record level of 10.53 set in the 1973 flood at Morgan City, the communities banded together and prepared for the worst. Fortunately, The Flood of 2011 did not reach the historic heights predicted. The official crest was 10.35 feet, the second highest ever recorded at Morgan City. The area was prepared for the predicted historic river levels. This level of confidence came about through the efforts of the St. Mary Parish Levee District, the St. Mary Parish Government, the City of Morgan City, the Town of Berwick, the State of Louisiana, the Corps of Engineers and the National Guard. Together they demonstrated that in times of great danger we can unite as a unit and not only face the threat head on, but win. Thanks to all for keeping us safe. Although the catastrophic event did not happen, the flood was still highly disruptive to local businesses and communities. As the water level dropped we began to see what was left behind, and our work at the Port of Morgan City began. Dock access in most areas was at levels that reduced commerce to almost nothing due to silt accumulation. The silt severely restricted navigation in the Atchafalaya River and limited access to the Gulf of Mexico. To make a bad situation worse, due to the slashing of the Corps of Engineers’ Operation and Maintenance budget by the federal government, the necessary funding required to dredge our waters to navigable depths was limited. The intersection of the Intracoastal Canal with the Atchafalaya River at Berwick Harbor is one of the busiest in the country and is critical to commerce and the security of the country. The U. S. Coast Guard has recorded as many as 5,000 passages per month at this intersection. This body of water is now listed as a major component of the Federal Marine Highway system. Traveling south 25-miles, the Atchafalaya River enters the Gulf Of Mexico and the oilfields and International Shipping Lanes that are so important to our country. Due to a 70/30 water flow distribution between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers which is maintained through the Old River Control Complex at the Red River, the Atchafalaya River carries the sediment load of more than 30 U. S. States that drain into the Mississippi River System. At one time, the Atchafalaya River at Berwick Harbor was listed as the deepest river in the world. Sadly, due to excessive siltation caused by the Old River diversion and inadequate funding to remove the silt, this is no longer the case. The Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Board of Commissioners believes that it has become more critical than ever that we continue our efforts to make Washington and the rest of this country aware of just how important proper maintenance of the Atchafalaya River is to the well being of the USA. The Commission remains dedicated to continuing their efforts to insure that the Atchafalaya River and Berwick Harbor remain open not only to serve as a magnet for future economic development within the Port District but also to enhance commerce and insure security for the entire nation.

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The Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District welcomed Scott Melancon of Morgan City as its newest commissioner during their April meeting.  Melancon, appointed by the Morgan City Council, will replace former commissioner Raymond Wade.

 


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The St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce heard from representatives from the Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District during a recent monthly luncheon. Port Commission President Raymond “Mac” Wade discussed the ports progress with tonnage collections, while Jonathan Hird of Moffatt and Nichol, an engineering firm the port hired to help determine how to manage its sediment problem, spoke about the pudding-like “spoil” that comes down the Atchafalaya River and must be dredged to keep waterways open. From left are chamber President Donna Meyer, chamber Program Chairman Adam Crappel, chamber board member Marilyn Davis, Wade, Hird and chamber Chairman Karl Young.

Published by Daily Review 05-18-11 

 

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InterMoor celebrated the grand opening of its new state-of-the-art facility in Morgan City on March 24 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception that included tours of the facility. More than 300 people attended the ceremony for the international maritime company. The company already has begun several large fabrication projects at the new facility. Keeping the company, which had considered relocating back to its headquarters in Houston because it had outgrown its Amelia facility, means the company will be able to retain more than 200 jobs and facilitate future growth. LEDA estimates the facility will generate more than $49 million in new state tax revenues and more than $35 million in local tax revenues during a 15-year period. The 24-acre facility houses administrative, maintenance operations and fabrication employees. Amenities include more than 30,000 square feet of fabrication space, mooring storage capabilities, a 12,000 square-foot multi-purpose building for administrative and operations employees and a state-of-the-art 20,000 square-foot blasting and painting facility.  Equipment includes a 300-ton crane to enhance docking services. At left, InterMoor officials participate in the company’s ceremonial ribbon cutting, while at right, Inter- Moor Vice President of Finance Scott Thomas (left) presents Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Commission President Raymond “Mac” Wade, center, and Port Executive Director Jerry Hoffpauir with a plaque recognizing the ribbon cutting. The Port of Morgan City purchased the land InterMoor was constructed on from the H&B Young Foundation and rents the property to the maritime company. 

Published in Daily Review 04/13/11



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A new tide station at the Martin Mainstream Fuel Services in Berwick officially is operational.  Tim Osborn of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration presented Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Executive Director Jerry Hoffpauir a ceremonial key to the facility along with a framed letter of congratulations on the facility’s opening during Monday’s meeting. Information from the station can be found online at http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/geo.shtml?location=8764044. From left are Osborn, Hoffpauir, and Capt. Jonathan Burton, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit, Morgan City, and captain of the port.  Click here for more photos.

Published in the Daily Review February 15, 2011

factcardThe Port of Morgan City will be ranked 98th for 2009 among U.S. ports in total tonnage handled.  Port Manager of Economic Development Cindy Cutrera made the announcement during Monday’s Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District monthly meeting that the local port would be included on the 2009 Waterborne Commerce Statistics Fact Card During 2009, the port handles 2.1 million tons, all domestic.  Cutrera and commission President Raymond “Mac” Wade met with Navigation Data Center officials at the Corps New Orleans office on Thursday, and verified in person and writing that they would be listed on the 2009 Waterborne Commerce Statistics Fact Card as a Top 100 port. 

The local port made the list because the additional information they provided on the Lower Atchafalaya River and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway was accepted.  Cutrera led the effort in gathering that information from local clients.  Other Louisiana ports included in the list include the Port of South Louisiana (LaPlace, 212.6 million tons, foreign and domestic), which was ranked first, while five other ports — New Orleans (sixth, 68.1 million tons), Lake Charles (11th, 52.3 million), Baton Rouge (13th, 51.9 million) and Plaquemines (14th, 50.9 million) — all ranked in the top 15.  The nearby Port of Houston was second with 211.3 million tons, domestic and foreign. 

Cutrera said she expects Morgan City port’s ranking to climb as it works more with the Corps and its stakeholders to report tonnage handled through local waterways.  “We know there is more tonnage activity that is not being reported because of the nature of offshore oil and gas operations, and we still have a lot to work through,” Cutrera said. “However, as we move forward, we will continue to meet with the (Navigation Data Center) to discuss ways to improve the process.” 

With its No. 98 ranking, the port bested Greenville, Miss., and Green Bay, Wis., ports in tonnage handled.  “We all agreed th-t No. 98 is a start … and that now we need to move up on the list in 2010 in order to make sure we remain in the Top 100,” Cutrera said.  Cutrera expressed her thanks to all companies that have supplied tonnage information to the port and answered her questions.  “I was able to fill in enough of the missing pieces to satisfy the NDC that my information was credible without any compromise of client confidentiality by any of the parties involved,” she said.  Wade complimented Cutrera on her work in gathering the port’s tonnage figures in recent years.   “She never gave up,” Wade said. “Of course she couldn’t give up because I wouldn’t let her give up.”  While he was glad the port would be ranked, Wade said he did not get his hopes up because the port had been told before, as was the case in 2009, that its tonnage numbers were not worthy of the Top 100 ranking.  The reasons have ranged from an unacceptable method of totaling tonnage to the Corps’ having the wrong maps of the Port of Morgan City’s boundaries.  “It was a long, hard process, but this is really the beginning for this area,” he said.  Wade called the accepted information the “low hanging fruit.” 

While tonnage traditionally has been a key in dredging monies, Wade said he heard from a Corps headquarter official that this year, more than ever, tonnage figures will be vital to funding.  During his report, port consultant Martin Cancienne of Washington, D.C.-based The Livingston Group, told commissioners that funding will be vital because House Republicans are pushing to remove $100 billion in spending.  “I can’t sit here and not tell you that’s going to affect the Corps of Engineers,” he said.  “At the end of the day, that’s going to affect, in all probability, the things that are near and dear to the port. Our job is just going to be that much more difficult to try to maintain the necessary funding that’s going to be required to keep this thing in the position that it needs to be,” Cancienne said of the port’s ranking.  However, he said the Office of Management and Budget sends funding recommendations to the White House, meaning it is important that the Port of Morgan City is listed among the top 100.  “That recommendation weighs heavily in the decision in the budget process,” Cancienne said. “When the budget process includes a good number for Morgan City, at least you’re starting out in a good position.” 

On a similar note, the port will be featured in PortVision’s quarterly newsletter documenting its success.  The port had purchased equipment from PortVision to help it determine its tonnage figures.  Now, Cutrera is turning her focus toward the 2010 reporting process, which she hopes to have submitted before the NDC submits it budget comments in March.  “So, I will once again be calling on all of our stakeholders for assistance in completing this information,” she said, asking again for their cooperation in the port’s efforts.

Published in the Daily Review November 9, 2010
 

Affiliations

National Waterways Conference Gulf Ports Assoc of the Americas Louisiana Industrial Develpment Esecutives Assoc Ports Association of Louisiana Gulf Intracostal Canal Association Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals US Coast Guard Houma

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