Ports Continue, But Hardly "Unfazed" - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Ports Continue, But Hardly "Unfazed"

Ports re-opened at the Garden City berth after the sugar refinery disaster. Ports re-opened at the Garden City berth after the sugar refinery disaster.

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - Disaster at the Imperial Sugar sugar refinery hit one of the busiest places in Chatham-County. Cars, tractor trailers, and giant freight ships all intersect right next door at the Georgia Ports Garden City terminal. Friday, the work there resumed, even in the face of tragedy.

Only a few hundred yards from the backside of the refinery, crews load and unload container vessels at the Garden City terminal. Robert Morris of the Georgia Ports Authority calls this one of the port's saddest days.

"These folks are our neighbors and our friends," Morris said.

During the night, port employees worked the rescue efforts and helped many victim's families find their loved ones. Tug boats that pumped river water to the fire trucks took over the channel and vessel traffic halted briefly.

By morning, the ports and its gates were open again. Morris had hoped people didn't perceive the port opening as insensitive. He said it actually helps those still fighting the fire and dealing with the tragedy.

"In order to allow emergency personnel to come and go from the site, because this is still an active fire, it's important for us to keep the flow of traffic that is going to come anyway," Morris explained.

Outside Friday, floating barriers surround the sugar refinery's docks as water runs off the scene.

"The Coast Guard continues to monitor water quality and from what we understand that's not an issue, said Morris. "They've cordoned it off."

Meanwhile work goes on at the port. Morris said not being impacted doesn't mean being unfazed.

"We consider them our co-workers in many ways," he  noted. "Our hearts and prayers go out to them now."

The Garden City terminal handles 6,000 to 8,000 truck movements, both in and out, each day.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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