Low River Affecting Memphis Businesses
(Memphis) Port terminals like the ones at President’s Island are usually hubs of activity, but low water on the Mississippi has slowed traffic there to a crawl, and nearly shut some of these businesses down.
So far, Nick Vrettos’ restaurant and convenience stores on President’s Island haven’t seen a big impact, but if the river keeps dropping he’s concerned he will, ”If they have to shut down the docks because they cannot unload, there’s not gonna be any trade. Those employees are gonna be on furlough.”
As we showed you in Greenville, MS, towboats are backed up for miles, as the Corps of Engineers digs night and day to keep the channel open.
”We actually have had several tows that have been stopped in the low water situation but we’ve been able to get a few of ‘em through” said Kevin Conway of Memphis-based Southern Towing who adds, those delays are costly. ”It’s literally thousands of dollars a day for either us or our customers”.
While it’s brought barge traffic to a crawl, companies are switching to trucks to move their products.
That’s boosting Kevin Lewis’ business ”It costs a little bit more to bring it in by truck but our business has increased probably about twenty percent of what we normally do.”
But that does nothing for the products already loaded on barges waiting for a tow to push them up or downstream.
There’s just not enough water to move them right now.
Valero energy foresees no problems at its Memphis refinery.
Businesses that depend on the river are bracing themselves.
”You gonna be able to hang on if that happens?” “Oh, sure. We’ve been here a long time, 30 years. I think we’ll be able to handle it,” said Vrettos.
Port experts say transportation costs are up 25 percent now, and that’s likely to cost us all more in food, gas and heating later on.