Flooding Closes Shipping on Mississippi River

Depending how long it lasts, the closure of the Mississippi River at Natchez could be costly.

The Coast Guard closed the section of the river today because barge traffic could put more pressure on levees. There's no word on when it will reopen.

Port officials say the closing could cost the U.S. economy hundreds of millions of dollars per day.

During the spring, towboats pushing barges laden with crops come down the Mississippi to a port near New Orleans to be loaded onto massive grain carriers for export. The Port of South Louisiana is the largest grain port in the country, handling about 54 percent of U.S. exports.

At least ten freight terminals along the lower Mississippi River have already suspended operations. Vessels will either have to wait out the high water or go to other ports or terminals. Port officials say delaying one vessel can cost up to $40,000 per day.

©2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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