Some Gulf Coast refineries coming back on line…Halliburton gets Navy clean-up contract…Texas airlines helping airlift Hurricane Katrina evacuees…
The U. S. refinery system is struggling back from Hurricane Katrina. Two storm-closed facilities have restarted. Flows of crude oil improving enough to allow refineries in the Gulf Coast and Midwest to ramp up production. But four damaged Gulf Coast refiners look likely to remain shut for weeks or even months, taking with them more than five percent of U. S. capacity. Hurricane Katrina shut eight major refineries and caused 12 others to run at reduced rates when their crude-oil supplies were cut. The Energy Department says a Chevron unit in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and the ConocoPhillips Alliance Refinery in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, suffered major damage. Murphy Oil’s refinery in Meraux, Louisiana and the Exxon Mobil unit in Chalmette, Louisiana suffered water damage.
A Halliburton subsidiary has a Navy contract to do emergency repairs at Hurricane Katrina-damaged Gulf Coast military sites. Kellogg, Brown & Root Services was awarded the competitive bid contract last July to provide debris removal and other emergency work after natural disasters. It’s a $500 million contract for the unit of Houston-based Halliburton. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command says KBR will get $12 million for work on Naval Air Station Pascagoula, Naval Station Gulfport and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. KBR will receive $4.6 million for work at two smaller Navy facilities in New Orleans and others in the south. KBR has been at the center of scrutiny for receiving a five-year, no-bid contract to restore Iraqi oil fields shortly before the war began in 2003.
New Orleans police say they shot and killed some gunmen who had fired upon a group of contractors traveling across a city bridge while on their way to make repairs. New Orleans Deputy Police Chief W. J. Riley says police shot at eight people, killing five or six of them. A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers says there were 14 contractors on their way to repair a canal. They were traveling across a bridge under police escort when they were fired upon. The contractors were on their way to launch barges into Lake Pontchartrain to fix the 17th Street Canal. The shootings took place on the Danziger Bridge, which spans a canal connecting Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.
New Orleans-based Entergy announced it will move its corporate offices to Mississippi during clean-up from Hurricane Katrina. CEO Wayne Leonard says New Orleans is Entergy’s home and they’re dedicated to the city’s reconstruction and resurrection–and eventually intend to return. For now, Entergy’s corporate offices will be located in an office complex in Clinton, Mississippi located west of Jackson. Entergy employees who normally work in downtown New Orleans will work in Clinton or in facilities around the New Orleans suburbs. Company locations in Little Rock, Arkansas plus Houston and Beaumont also will be used. Entergy’s utility-parent division includes the company’s regulated utilities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Governor Rick Perry ordered Texas emergency officials to begin preparations to airlift some Hurricane Katrina evacuees to other states. Texas currently has more than a quarter of a million evacuees from Louisiana. Other states offering to help are Michigan, Utah, West Virginia and Iowa. Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt says officials at relief centers around Texas are running out of room. Aid centers will be set up at airports in Houston and Dallas, where incoming evacuees will be given food, water and medical care before flying out. Walt says West Virginia had sent C-130 cargo planes to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio to pick up more than 200 evacuees. Perry’s office is contacting commercial carriers to help with the mercy airlift. She had no numbers on how many refugees could be transferred. Fort Worth-based American, Dallas-based Southwest and Houston-based Continental Airlines have agreed to help with the airlift. Other states offering to accept Katrina refugees are New York, Michigan, Utah, West Virginia, Iowa, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.
About 225,000 evacuees from areas hard hit by Hurricane Katrina are now in Texas. That has officials in the Lone Star State steering new arrivals to surrounding states. Signs along major gateway corridors are encouraging buses to head to Arkansas instead. In Houston, officials have put out the call for cots. They say they can use as many as they can get. While evacuees are being urged to go to other states, officials in Houston say they will continue to accept the elderly, people with medical needs and families. Medical clinics at the three largest shelters in Houston are seeing about 50 patients per hour with 70 rooms occupied.
A half billion dollars from Kuwait, the country the U. S.-led coalition liberated from Iraqi occupation in 1991. Another $100 million from Qatar. Those are among the offers of help coming to the United States for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The 22-member Arab League is calling on Arab nations to provide hurricane relief. The European Union and NATO say the U. S. has asked for emergency assistance. Both say they’re ready to help. Among those pledging support are Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Finland, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands. South Korea is sending $30 million. North Korea, which views the U. S. as its main enemy, has sent a message of sympathy through the Red Cross. Afghanistan, with a government propped up by other countries, is pledging $100,000 for U. S. victims of Hurricane Katrina. The U. S. embassy in Kabul says the pledge came in a letter from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Afghanistan relies heavily on financial aid from the U. S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann says Afghanistan’s compassion and generosity bears testimony to the strength of the ties between the two countries.
Across the country, Americans of all races and income levels are opening their wallets, their homes and their hearts to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. They are outraged over the atrocious living conditions flashing across their TV screens. They ache for the wounded, the weak, the hungry babies and the shell-shocked kids. Most of all, they want to help. For Steve Smith, it was the radio story about a family staying at Reunion Arena in Dallas with a one-month-old infant. A father himself, he couldn’t imagine living in an arena with a newborn. Smith, 34, fired off an e-mail to friends and co-workers and raised almost $4,000 in two days to put up families in a Dallas hotel. He also got his company to donate food for a month and negotiated a cheaper hotel rate.
The Houston Astros have contributed $200,000 to organizations assisting victims of Hurricane Katrina. Astros owner Drayton McLane has matched a $100,000 donation collected by his players and coaches. The wives of some players also took part in a relief drive outside the stadium before Sunday’s game in Houston. St. Louis beat the Astros 4-to-1.