KANSAS CITY — Hurricane Dorian spared Florida sugar cane fields and mills, but disrupted logistics and forced the closure of a major sugar cane refinery in Georgia. Flour mills, which mostly are inland in the affected areas, appeared to be only marginally affected by the storm, although many were affected by transportation issues.
The Louis Dreyfus (Imperial) sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga., (Savannah) was taken down Sept. 1 because of the approach of Hurricane Dorian. Trade sources indicated the plant ran hard into the weekend before going down on Sept. 1, allowing workers to leave their homes amid a mandatory evacuation beginning noon Monday (Sept. 2) of six coastal counties (one being Chatham county, which includes Savannah and Port Wentworth) ordered by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. It was hoped the plant would reopen late in the week, depending on the speed, track and impact of the storm.
Other sugar refiners in the region appeared to be running as the storm tracked northward up the Atlantic coast rather than making landfall on Florida as had been expected last week. Still, Florida cane fields received ample rainfall.
Flour mills in the region planned to maintain operations with the exception of one mill that considered going down late in the week, depending on the impact of the storm and the ability to receive grain and ship out products. As with the Florida sugar refineries, it was more an issue of flour mills’ customers being able to receive deliveries along coastal areas that were more in the path of the storm.
The greatest impact appeared to be on shipping and logistics in the Southeast with ports closed, truck and rail transportation disrupted, and in some cases, food manufacturing facilities closed and not receiving deliveries.
The Florida Department of Transportation temporarily halted all activity on the Central Florida rail corridor, which affected CSX and all short line railroads. The Florida East Coast Railway suspended rail service on Aug. 30 until further notice. Norfolk Southern also made plans for its operations along the Southeast and mid-Atlantic coast, including closing of gates for intermodal shipments at some ports until Sept. 6. The South Carolina Port Authority closed the Charleston and Georgetown ports on Sept. 4-5, and planned to reopen them on Sept. 6. North Carolina ports at Wilmington and Morehead City were shut to commercial activity on Sept. 4. Ports in Florida, including Miami, Jacksonville, Fernandina and Canaveral, were closed earlier. The railroads told customers to expect delays.
Slow-moving Dorian was a category three hurricane near Charleston, N.C., on Thursday morning, with the greatest threat of flooding from massive rainfall and from storm surge from Charleston up the coast to Hatteras, N.C., into the weekend, weakening as it moved north.