The Port of Tampa Bay avoided a direct hit from Hurricane Ian as it made landfall on Wednesday after it hurtled across Cuba a day earlier.
The storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Fort Meyers, a city that is about 200 km to the south of Tampa Bay, port spokeswoman Lisa Wolf-Chason told TradeWinds on Thursday.
“No major damage but assessments are continuing,” she said.
“Port Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay region were lucky to avoid a direct hit.”
Wind speeds and rainfall totals were not immediately available for Tampa Bay, but Fort Meyers experienced wind gusts as high as 235 kph and storm surges as high as about 2 metres, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The Port Heavy Weather Advisory Group is working with the US Coast Guard to conduct a full assessment of the port and its waterways and channels, port officials announced on the port’s website on Thursday.
“Port Tampa Bay has resumed landside operations and once we have been given clearance by the Coast Guard, we will return to vessel operations as soon as safely possible,” they said.
“As Port Tampa Bay continues to coordinate with federal, state, and local agencies, as well as the maritime community to respond to the impacts of Hurricane Ian, we want to express sincere appreciation to those who helped our port prepare and recover.”
The port is also working with fuel terminal operators such as Chevron to let fuel trucks in and out of the port to serve the region.
“We will continue to provide updates to our port operations on our website and social media pages,” it said.
“Our current priorities are safety of life, protection of the environment, and a full return to cargo and cruise operations.”
Cruise ship owners had to either cancel or modify itineraries in the hurricane-affected area to ensure human safety.
Hurricane Ian has gone back out to sea and is expected to make landfall a second time over the coast of South Carolina on Friday, the National Hurricane Center said.