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BYLINE: By Janet Nodar
Mississippi port, coastal economy still struggle
A year ago, Don Allee, the Port of Gulfport's executive director, was hoping the port would handle 100,000 TEUs in 2006, but a lot of stars would need to be aligned before that could happen. The stars lined up: the port handled 197,428 TEUs in 2006, despite the pummeling Hurricane Katrina administered on Aug. 29, 2005.
That day, the Port of Gulfport lost 700,000 square feet of storage space and suffered traumatic damage to berths, piers, railroad tracks and other infrastructure when the storm surge smashed into the Mississippi Gulf coast. While life is still not back to post-storm normal, Gulfport's director and staff are working toward a brighter future.
The port, like the rest of the Katrina-blasted coast, is stuck in a holding pattern when it comes to receiving insurance payouts, Federal Emergency Management Agency money or government-funded HUD grants for repairing the damage. So far, the port has received about $55 million of …