Hurricane Ida hit the Louisiana Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm on August 29, causing widespread flooding and power outages statewide and shutdowns at major refineries along the Mississippi River. .
Heavy rains until the morning of August 31 from the remnants of the hurricane are expected to result in extreme flooding conditions throughout Louisiana and parts of Mississippi and Alabama. Flood water, debris and evacuation orders have already caused the closure or limitation of port operations and certain fleets and road stops. Deep-sea rescues are underway, the New Orleans National Weather Service tweeted on Aug. 30.
Some examples of the effects of the hurricane:
- Truck stops in evacuation areas have been closed, including locations in Louisiana for Love’s Travel Stops and Pilot Flying J.
(1 of 3) HURRICANE IDA UPDATE 8/30/21 12:35 PM EST: Safety continues to be our number one priority after Hurricane Ida. Our teams are working hard to restore service as quickly and safely as possible to aid recovery and rescue efforts.
– Flying pilot J (@PilotFlyingJ) August 30, 2021
- The ports of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Gramercy and Morgan City in Louisiana and the port of Pascagoula in Mississippi are closed.
- As of August 30, Averitt was not accepting shipments destined for New Orleans or Baton Rouge, Louisiana, or Jackson, Mississippi. The company also limited service to Mobile, Alabama, and Meridian, Mississippi.
As Ida moves inland, considerable flooding is possible in parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley, Tennessee Valley, Ohio Valley, Central Appalachians and southern and central Atlantic.
Pipeline closures and impacts on fuel
On August 29, Colonial Pipeline (the largest fuel pipeline in the United States) temporarily closed the operation of two lines between Houston and Greensboro, North Carolina, as a precaution and “routine safety measure” . During this time, fuel supply was available via lines serving northeast Greensboro to Linden, New Jersey.
Within 48 hours of Ida’s landing, all lines in the pipeline are expected to reopen, pending successful competition for restart protocols, Colonial Pipeline officials said in a press release.
At least nine refineries downsized or shut down operations before the storm; this represents about 13% of total US refining capacity, according to the US Department of Energy’s Hurricane Ida report.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Marathon Petroleum, Valero Energy, Phillips 66 and Royal Dutch Shell shut down about 8% of the country’s refining capacity before the storm.
According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, about 1.74 million barrels per day, or 95.7% of crude production, was stranded as of August 19.
Just over half of the total US refining capacity is in the Gulf Coast region. According to the DOE, output from Gulf Coast refineries is critical to supplying fuels to markets in the high-demand East Coast region.
Products leave the Gulf Coast region on the Colonial and PPL pipeline systems to the Southeast and Central Atlantic markets, and via tankers and barges to Florida. Gulf Coast refineries export around 20% of their production to foreign countries.
Prolonged refinery shutdowns could drive up gasoline and diesel prices, the analysis said, especially if capacity is shut down for an extended period. And due to increased demand from evacuees, it is also likely that there will be limited temporary disruptions to retail gas stations, DOE officials said.
HOS exemptions and relief efforts
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued an exemption to the hours of service rules for truck drivers supporting the relief effects of Hurricane Ida. Under the emergency ruling, certain carriers in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas are exempt from 49 CFR Part 39.5.
American Trucking Associations has set up a relief fund for those affected by the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi.
We need your help! When natural disasters strike, the trucking industry is there, quickly, without hesitation. To assist ATA’s efforts in Hurricane Ida relief, please donate at https://t.co/W6cettdhiX pic.twitter.com/y5P7iSA14G
– ATA LEAD (@LEAD_ATA) August 30, 2021