Resilient Labor Force Keeps Cargo Moving
The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority met virtually in regular session on Tuesday, following the unprecedented winter storm that hit Texas last week. Chairman Ric Campo opened the meeting by expressing his concern and gratitude for the work of employees and partners impacted by this historic weather event and its aftermath.
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Bayport Container Terminal - Port Houston temporarily suspended operations at its eight public terminals due to historic sub-freezing temperatures in Texas. All public terminals have resumed operations. (Photo: Business Wire)
Many Texans, including Port Houston employees and partners, suffered from the loss of electricity, heat, and water and damage to their homes during the record-breaking sub-freezing temperatures, as Port Houston suspended operations temporarily at its public facilities.
"Throughout the week, our main priority was the safety of our people and keeping everyone out of harm’s way," Chairman Campo said. "Thank you to employees who continued to carry out their duties under these challenging conditions." Multiple teams staffed port facilities during the event to help ensure safety, security, and the protection of infrastructure.
The event impacted several public terminal facilities, which experienced a loss of power, water, and other systems. "Following the suspension of operations, our team members and partners worked around the clock to support the reopening of Port Houston," Chairman Campo said. Subsequently, the customer service hours at the container facilities were extended to help alleviate the backlog and maximize cargo flow.
"Much of what comes across our docks supplies millions of people in our region with food and other essential goods, making our role especially critical in times of crisis," Chairman Campo said. "We reopened our terminals to begin moving cargo and support our community as recovery moves forward."
Roughly 80% of Port Houston employees experienced impacts from the winter storm, according to an internal survey. "Looking ahead, we are committed to supporting our people and their wellbeing as they also work to recover," Chairman Campo stressed.
Port Houston staff has activated its Employee Catastrophic Assistance Fund to support employees who experienced harm following the storm. This program provides grants of up to $5,000 for employees in need and through employee donation of leave time hours.
"We’re pleased to coordinate that effort and see port employees supporting one another in this time of need, just as the port supports our region," Chairman Campo said. "Together, we will get back to normal as soon as possible."
The chairman also provided an update on the Houston Ship Channel Expansion program, Project 11. The project is transitioning from planning and design to its first physically tangible action, with work beginning soon to convert a Port Authority site to a dredge material placement area. Proposals are due in March, with a contract expected to be awarded in April.
During the meeting, Port Houston also announced its 46th consecutive Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting awarded by the Government Finance Officers Association for its 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). This certificate is the highest form of recognition for governmental accounting and financial reporting.
The next regular Port Commission meeting is scheduled for March 23.
About Port Houston
For more than 100 years, Port Houston has owned and operated the public wharves and terminals along the Houston Ship Channel, including the area’s largest breakbulk facility and two of the most efficient and fastest-growing container terminals in the country. Port Houston is the advocate and a strategic leader for the Channel. The Houston Ship Channel complex and its more than 200 public and private terminals, collectively known as the Port of Houston, is the nation’s largest port for waterborne tonnage and an essential economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas, and the U.S. The Port of Houston supports the creation of nearly 1.35 million jobs in Texas and 3.2 million jobs nationwide, and economic activity totaling $339 billion in Texas – 20.6 percent of Texas’ total gross domestic product (GDP) – and $801.9 billion in economic impact across the nation. For more information, visit the website at www.PortHouston.com.
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Lisa Ashley, Director, Media Relations
Office: 713-670-2644; Mobile: 832-247-8179