The container terminals in the Port of New York and New Jersey suffered major damage on Monday night when the tidal surge driven by Hurricane Sandy flooded the facilities.
The terminals, which are still without power, are not likely to be ready to handle vessels before Friday at the earliest.
“It looked like a little kid’s Erector set that was tipped upside down,” said Jim Devine, president and CEO of Global Terminals, which includes Global Terminal in Jersey City and New York Container Terminal on Staten Island. “This is as bad devastation as you can possibly imagine short of an explosion. There was major, major damage at all of the terminals.”
The tidal surge at all the terminals brought water levels above the motors on the wheels of some of the ship-to-shore cranes, and salt water got into them. “We are flushing them out with fresh water,” Devine said. Fortunately, there was no structural damage to the ship-to-shore cranes.
At Global Terminal, which uses rubber-tire gantry cranes, the motors were high enough off the ground and sealed, so they were not affected by the storm-driven seawater.
The container ships that had been scheduled to call the terminals are mostly waiting outside the harbor. “I think they are waiting to find out when we reopen,” Devine said. “The earliest you might see someone reopen is Friday, and that’s only if the terminal gets power back.”
There were no ships at the terminals when the hurricane hit on Monday because they were required to leave port.
In order to reopen, the terminals, which include Port Newark Container Terminal, Maher Terminals and APM Terminals in Port Elizabeth, N.J., as well as Devine’s two facilities, will first have to clean up the debris and damaged machinery. Cleanup was under way Wednesday. When power is restored, the Coast Guard will inspect the facility to ensure that the physical plant is functional and security has been restored.