The Lower Mississippi River (LMR) and its 5 deep water ports represent a significant national asset as well as a critical portion of a major transportation corridor from the heartland of the country to the Gulf of Mexico. The lower portion of the Mississippi River is particularly subject to major disruptions caused by both manmade and natural disasters. In light of recent events of national significance (Hurricane Katrina of 2005 and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010) researchers at UNOTI questioned: 1) what assets at the LMR ports are available to respond to these events; 2) what agreements either exist or are needed to access them during emergency or disaster situations. UNOTI conducted extensive on-site interviews with port officials to determine their existing assets and USCG officials to determine if these assets are included within their various plans for emergency or disaster response. What we discovered is that a variety of assets do exist but, to date, they are not an integral part of any regional or national response plan.
In times of disaster affecting the LMR all assets may be called into service. Depending in the magnitude it the event, regardless of the specific plans being utilized, contingency measures call into play all conventional and unconventional assets to deal with the after effects. This was the case in both Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The responses to these events can be used to improve our ability to respond in a more comprehensive and “all hands - all assets - all responses” manner. UNOTI’s Appendix A provides the USCG and other organizations with a current inventory of port assets that can be incorporated into their emergency response plans, most specifically the USCG’s Area Contingency Plan (ACP) and identifies what agreements currently exist to access these assets in times of disaster.
Amdal, James R.; Jayawardana, Jay; and Swigart, Stanley L., "Incorporating Lower Mississippi River Port Assets into Emergency Preparedness and Response Initiatives" (2012). UNOTI Publications. Paper 1.