The Port of Virginia is moving an estimated 5,800 to 6,500 import containers and 3,500 automobiles that were diverted from New York-New Jersey to avoid Hurricane Sandy.
During the week-long closure of the Port of New York and New Jersey, Virginia terminals worked two diverted vessels. The Axel Maersk discharged and loaded 4,736 containers at APM Terminals in Portsmouth. The volume was a record for any ship at the port.
"We're extremely busy dealing with the backlog of cargo and it is going to take some time to get completely back to normal," said Rodney W. Oliver, interim executive direction of the Virginia Port Authority. "We are working to move the cargo to its destination by any means available: truck, rail and barge."
Most of the displaced cargo likely will move to the Northeast by rail, port officials said, because of constraints faced by motor carriers headed to that area. Two ocean carriers are using Columbia Coastal Transport to move more than 1,200 containers to New York-New Jersey and Philadelphia by barge.
"We also have the ability to do additional voyages as needed in an effort to alleviate any congestion in Norfolk," said Joe Villa, vice president of operations for Columbia Coastal.
Port officials have no estimate of when the terminals will be cleared of the diverted cargo, but said about 1,400 containers have already been evacuated.