Despite fears that it will take months to rebuild port facilities in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that were wrecked by an earthquake on Jan. 12, construction and shipping industry representatives say the damage will not prevent them from pouring building materials and equipment into the country as soon as they are given the go-ahead by officials.
“The port being destroyed won’t be a hindrance...not if you have an experienced heavy-lift operator,” says Jerry Nagel, CEO of U.S. operations for Rickmers-Linie, Hamburg, Germany. “Most of the time we bring equipment to jobsites that aren’t on the main port. We’re moving in very primitive situations, so we are always engineering and improvising to land equipment.”
Haiti’s trade normally goes through south Florida, says Rex Sherman, research director at the American Association of Port Authorities, Alexandria, Va., but ports all around the U.S. are bracing to support a surge of traffic. “We don’t normally have a regular service to Haiti, but we have expertise handling that type of cargo—oversized and overweight pieces, heavy equipment,” says Chris Bonura, spokesman at the Port of New Orleans. “We are getting a lot of requests from people who want to get relief to Haiti.”
The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Maritime Administration has already mobilized six high-speed catamarans with shallow draft and roll-on, roll-off ramp capabilities for immediate deliveries.