After being closed last week due to Hurricane Matthew, the Savannah River channel has reopened for commercial traffic Wednesday morning at 7 a.m., with 11 vessels transiting the channel by mid-afternoon, nine of which will be worked at Garden City Terminal and two at Ocean Terminal, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) reported.
By the end of the day, the Garden City Terminal was working nine vessels, moving nearly 800 containers per hour, with an anticipated 7,800 container moves for the day.
“Georgia's ports are now fully operational which is a testament to the efforts of countless individuals to ensure our port customers experienced minimal impact,” according to GPA Executive Director, Griff Lynch, who said the ports’ service providers, stakeholders, first responders and employees, as well as Governor Nathan Deal's Office worked around the clock to bring the ports of Brunswick and Savannah back online.
Because the full force of the storm struck Savannah's outer harbor, aids to navigation were severely compromised. “Of all the ports affected by Hurricane Matthew, the Port of Savannah was hit the hardest,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Amy Beach, Marine Safety Unit Savannah Commander. “I know how vital the Port of Savannah is to the nation, and fully reopening the port was my top priority.”
Commander Beach and Rear Admiral Scott Buschman helped to expedite the repairs necessary to restore this channel, Lynch said.
Hundreds of GPA employees were on terminals in both Brunswick and Savannah the day after the storm restoring power, working with emergency responders and testing systems to ensure the safe return of thousands of port users.
The gates at Garden City Terminal are projected to process more than 8,500 truck moves today, Wednesday, Oct. 12. That number is expected to grow throughout this week and into next week. Lynch encouraged the local trucking community to take advantage of this Saturday's regularly scheduled gate hours.
“During peak season, we understand this is a critical time for port users' supply chain in the U.S. Southeast and Midwest,” Lynch said. “Everyone involved did a phenomenal job bringing the port back to normal operations.”
As the largest single-terminal container facility in the nation and more than 9,700 feet of contiguous berthing space and 22 ship-to-shore cranes, Savannah was able to quickly recover from the storm with minimal impact to the supply chain.
“Hurricane Matthew demonstrated the ability of our team to rise to the occasion and the incredible resiliency of our ports to efficiently handle large volumes in difficult circumstances,” Lynch said.