New Orleans port reopens to accommodate military vessels

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NEW ORLEANS -- The Mississippi River re-opened during daylight hours to ships with a 35-foot draft, but Port of New Orleans officials said the port needs an influx of diesel fuel in order to run its port operations.

The diesel is needed to run ship-board generators that will create the electricity to run port operations, a statement from port officials said. Those port operations are going to be crucial to getting supplies and aid to New Orleans in the coming days.

The ports CEO Gary LaGrange said the port is trying to procure the fuel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The port will be dedicated to military relief vessels during the next few weeks, LaGrange said. The Iwo Jima, a 900-foot Marine Corps. helicopter carrier, will berth at the Julia Street Cruise Terminal.

LaGrange said the port survived Hurricane Katrina in fairly decent shape, and officials have set up operations at the port headquarters building, with a Louisiana State Police SWAT team headquarters temporarily installed on the first floor. 

However, he said, repairs in several areas of the port will be needed to bring the port back to full operations.

To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].

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