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NPR | With Rain Lessening in Houston, Airports and Ports Begin Opening

09.01.17 | Greg Allen, NPR

The rain has let up in Houston, but getting in and out of the city is still a difficult task. Houston's two main airports reopened Wednesday with limited service. But many roads are flooded, and some bridges have been damaged.

Since Saturday, when both the airports shut down, thousands of flights in and out the city have been canceled. Up to now, at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the runways were open only for limited operations and humanitarian flights.

The shutdown of Houston's air, rail and port operations, plus the closure of key roads, is likely to have more than just a regional impact. Noel Perry, a logistics consultant with FTR Transportation Intelligence says, "Houston is an interchange point. It isn't the only one, but it's an important one. So there are effects that go east and west and north."

Perry points to similar disruptions after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and the 2014 snowstorms that shut down much of the Northeast. When trucking resumed, he says the cost of freight deliveries spiked.

"I would expect something like that again here," Perry says. "If you're trying to get a dry van (trailer) to run into Houston or out of Houston, at some point over the next couple of weeks, you're going to be paying a hell of a lot more."

Perry expects the disruption from Harvey will cause a smaller but still significant increase in freight costs nationally as well.

As Houston begins its recovery and looks toward the future, one dire question remains: how long before Port Houston - a 25-mile-long complex of public and private facilities - can reopen.

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