A donation of heavy-duty shipyard equipment from a snowy port in Alaska is helping Louisiana fishermen ravaged by Hurricane Katrina get back to harvesting shrimp, oysters and other seafood from the warm Gulf Coast waters.
The coastal city of Valdez, Alaska donated a Marine Travelift – a mobile boat hoist used by marinas and shipyards that is capable of moving vessels of up to 60 tons in and out of the water or repositioning boats on land to make repairs. The equipment, worth between $250,000 and $300,000, was given by Valdez to the Plaquemines Parish government, which had lost a similar lift in the storm. Part of the giving spirit in Valdez comes from empathy with hard-hit Plaquemines – Valdez was completely destroyed by the Alaskan earthquake and tsunami of 1964 and rebuilt with the help of other communities, according to the city’s official history.
NEWS BEAT: Giving a liftThe donation came about through the cooperation of the Louisiana and Alaska Sea Grant programs – part of a national network of university-based programming in coastal communities – and port authorities in both states. The trucking companies Carlisle Transportation of Anchorage, Alaska, and Packard Truck Lines of Plaquemines
Parish donated their services to bring the 16-ton lift over its 4,500-mile journey.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left an estimated 3,000 commercial and 40,000 recreational boats in Plaquemines Parish in need of salvage. The U.S. Coast Guard is in charge of the recovery effort, but it’s up to boat owners to move their vessels to repair areas and return them to the water. Without a functioning lift in the area, owners might otherwise have had to rent expensive cranes to get their vessels back in action. “I don’t know how to thank them enough. The value of this donation is beyond words,” Plaquemines Parish President Benny Rousselle said in a statement. Despite progress, Louisiana fishermen continue to struggle with storm recovery, industry officials recently told a group of congressmen visiting the area. Chief among the problems are waterways that remain clogged with storm debris, loans for boat repairs that are frequently rejected and the slow pace of rebuilding dockside facilities like processing plants, ice houses and fuel docks, officials told members of the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries and Oceans during a March field inspection.
“Our fishing communities look as if they were hit by the storms yesterday,” Harlon Pearce, chairman of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, said in testimony before the subcommittee. – I.M.