September 1, 2008 / 8:30 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Gustav shuts ports, waterways from Texas to Florida

HOUSTON, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Ports and waterways for 600 miles from Texas to Florida could reopen quickly after passage of Hurricane Gustav, officials said Monday.

In New Orleans, officials said damage appeared light, and they were optimistic about restarting operations as soon as channel surveys showed depths adequate after the storm.

“Hopefully, we can open it up as soon as this thing blows over,” Port of New Orleans chief executive Gary LaGrange told local television.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it hoped to reopen the port of Mobile, Alabama, as soon as conditions allowed.

As Gustav came ashore, vessels were halted in ports from Houston to Pensacola, Florida, and on a stretch of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Mississippi to Florida.

The ports and waterways are important handlers of crude oil and refined products as well as commodities like coal, corn, soybeans and wheat from the central United States.

The Gulf ICW was closed from Mile 40 near Pearlington, Mississippi, at the Louisiana-Mississippi line, to Mile 250 near Panama City, Florida.

Hurricane Gustav came ashore as a Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds near Cocodrie, Louisiana, southwest of New Orleans, about 10 a.m. central (1500 GMT) Monday. Four hours later, it had weakened to a Cat 1 with 90 mph winds. (Reporting by Chris Baltimore and Bruce Nichols; Editing by John Picinich)

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