"Hurricane Katrina damaged the nation's leading gateway for the import and export of many bulk materials. In addition to oil and gas suppliers, grain producers and the steel, chemical, and rubber industries are highly reliant on the ports along the Lower Mississippi River. While commercial shipping has been restored on a very limited basis, it is still uncertain when the region will be able to return to normal shipping operations. Obstacles to full operation include a lack of power, displaced port workers, missing channel buoys, and submerged debris in some ship channels. With the exception of one Gulf port, most ports suffered only minor damage to their terminal equipment. The extent of the damage, how soon normal port operations can resume, and which shippers in particular will have the hardest time adapting should the disruption continue for an extended period are of significant interest to Congress because these ports potentially affect the trade of 33 states that depend on the Mississippi River and its tributaries for shipping."
CRS Report for Congress, RS22257