Economy, Auto

US Auto Importers Brace for Hurricane Irma

Imported vehicles at Port of Brunswick (File Photo)Imported vehicles at Port of Brunswick (File Photo)

Auto distributors and ports in the United States’ southeast are scrambling to prepare for Hurricane Irma, a devastating storm that is forecast to directly hit south Florida on Sunday and move into Georgia by Monday.

The region is home to two of the largest America auto ports — Jacksonville, Fla., and Brunswick, Ga. The Port of Charleston, in South Carolina, is also expected to experience storm conditions, Automotive News reported.

Earlier Friday, the ports were working to secure equipment and get cargo vessels out to sea where they will be safer.

The Port of Jacksonville handled 652,000 vehicles in 2016, with Volkswagen and Toyota being large users. Fourteen ocean carriers with auto service call the port.

It closed at noon Friday and administrative offices will remain shut through Monday, the port authority said in a bulletin.

Port of Brunswick also is ranked in the top three for auto volume, with a heavy concentration on imports. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Volvo are among automakers that ship vehicles through the port.

Georgia Ports Authority said operations at Brunswick will cease Saturday through Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Port of Charleston, which is a large gateway for BMW exports and imports of containerized parts for the automaker’s plant in Spartanburg, S.C., plans to remain open.

“Based on current projections, the conditions in Charleston are expected to allow safe operations. Normal gate hours and vessel operations will continue,” the South Carolina Ports Authority said in an advisory Friday afternoon.

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