Houston’s vital port will reopen on Friday, after being mostly spared by Hurricane Harvey

A new day at the Port of Houston.
A new day at the Port of Houston.
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The rainfall is slowing in Houston, but the impacts from Hurricane Harvey are expected to be felt for months, as homeowners deal with totaled properties, businesses repair storm damage, and tens of thousands of people look for temporary homes.

However, one of the city’s main economic drivers, the Port of Houston, is coming back online tomorrow. The massive port closed Friday, August 25 at noon, and will reopen to some container ships on Sept. 1 at 7am. As it gets back up to speed over the next few days, shipping activities will be limited to daylight hours, and parts of the shipping channel will stay closed.

Houston’s port is the country’s second-busiest by tonnage after the Port of South Louisiana, and plays a key role in the US’s oil, gas, petroleum, and chemical industries. It is also handles more foreign shipping, by weight, than any other US port. The port’s governing body estimates it contributes over $600 billion (pdf) to US economic activity a year.

Houston ships more gasoline than any other US port, accounting for some 38% of overall US gasoline exports, or over $14 billion worth in the first half of this year.

Whether US gas exports will come back up to full steam in the weeks ahead depends on how damaged local refineries are, and how soon employees can get back to work. The Port of Houston said on Thursday there had been “no evidence of flooding on terminal. No visible damage to containers, cranes, or other terminal equipment.”