Port of Lake Charles board members on Friday approved several agreements related to recovery from Hurricanes Laura and Delta, including the removal of damaged equipment that handles bagged cargo at City Docks, and removing all four damaged cranes at Bulk Terminal 1.
The board agreed to enter into a contract with Alfred Palma LLC for both projects.
Only one of the port’s three ship loaders and three unloaders is salvageable, according to Port Director Richert Self. Located at City Docks, it is only used for loading U.S. Department of Agriculture bagged cargo, such as rice. Self said the port continues to handle cargo, but it has lost most of its efficiency after the hurricanes.
“It used to take maybe two days to load a (petroleum) coke ship,” he said. “It’s now taking about eight or nine. So you can imagine the increase in expense. We have higher labor costs, higher stevedore costs.”
A mobile harbor crane ordered by the port to assist with loading cargo at Bulk Terminal 1 is set to arrive Dec. 12, Self said.
“That’s going to be very helpful,” he said.
All four of the hurricane-damaged cranes at Bulk Terminal 1 are custom made. Aside from the mobile crane, Self said it could take up to 16 months before the replacements can be delivered to the port.
Avery Munson with Berard Transportation in New Iberia protested the port’s recommendation of using Alfred Palma for the work. He said a detailed explanation of why Berard’s bid was rejected was not provided.
“This job is not one that should go to the lowest bidder,” he said. “This project is so complex.”
John Ringo, the port’s legal counsel, said all federal rules were followed, and FEMA requires the port to follow procedures and practices.
“We did not award this contract solely based on cost,” he said. “It was based on total value to the port, and that’s important.”
Board members also approved a 14-day extension of the port’s existing temporary contract with the firm CSRS, which has assessed hurricane damage to port buildings and is doing FEMA compliance work for Laura and Delta. Under the initial 90-day contract, the port provided CSRS with $250,000. The 14-day extension includes an additional $160,000 from the port to CSRS.
Chris Pellegrin with CSRS said its staff assessed more than 90 port buildings after Hurricane Laura and again after Hurricane Delta. He said 13 requests for proposals for certain repair projects are in the works.
All of the money allocated by the port to CSRS is 100 percent reimbursable by FEMA because it is part of grant management services, Self said.
Pellegrin said the extent of damage immediately after Hurricane Laura was overwhelming. However, the aggressive recovery has been impressive, he said.
“The people of Lake Charles aren’t sitting around waiting to recover,” Pellegrin said. “We’re trying to get ahead of it.”