Cargo terminals within the Port of New Orleans will cease operations by 5 p.m. today as Port personnel and terminal operators finish storm preparedness procedures in anticipation of Tropical Storm Isaac.

The Associated Branch Pilots, which pilot ships through Southwest Pass at the mouth of the Mississippi River, ceased operations Sunday night and the Crescent River Port Pilots and the New Orleans Baton Rouge Pilot Association ceased moving vessels this morning, closing the River to deep-draft traffic until the storm threat passes.

The Port of New Orleans Administration Building and cargo operations will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

“The safety of our personnel and their families is paramount during any threat of this kind,” said Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange. “Our staff and terminal operators have taken all of the necessary precautions in anticipation of the worst, while we hope for the best. This isn’t our first rodeo.”

The final phase of the Port’s storm plan is to lock down cranes, ensure key operations and security personnel are in place; remove any potential hazards from wharves and secure all floating equipment.

“Our storm preparations have gone very smoothly,” LaGrange said. “We are in constant contact and coordinating all efforts with the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and all of our tenants and customers.”

The Port’s Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal is finishing work today on the 778-foot MSC Nederland, which will remain in port, along with five other ships until the Mississippi River reopens. The terminal is jointly operated by Ports America and New Orleans Terminal. Both operators have ceased accepting refrigerated or hazardous containers today. New Orleans Terminal’s gate will close today at 2 p.m. Ports America will accept their last truck for the Napoleon Terminal at 2:30 p.m. today; however, the operator’s breakbulk operations will continue as scheduled until 5 p.m. today.

The Port’s cruise operations were not affected by the approaching storm over the weekend. The Carnival Conquest sailed normally Sunday and is due back on Sunday, Sept. 2. The Carnival Elation is scheduled to arrive Thursday at the Erato Street Cruise Terminal.

Stakeholders and employees should monitor the Port’s web site and terminal operators’ web sites for updates.

Immediately following the storm the Coast Guard will evaluate all waterways and determine when the River will be reopened for safe transit.

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