The Port Authority will provide technical and financial assistance to Gulf Coast states that were severely affected this week by Hurricane Katrina, which has been called the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.
“As an agency that suffered the loss of 84 of our colleagues during the worst terrorist attacks in this country’s history, we sympathize with the residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who have lost loved ones in this terrible natural disaster,” said Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia. “Following September 11, we received tremendous support from people from around the nation to help us recover our lost from the site and to begin the rebuilding process. This is our opportunity to give back to those who need our help now.”
Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth J. Ringler Jr. said that at the direction of New York Governor George E. Pataki and Acting New Jersey Governor Richard J. Codey, the bistate agency contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offer aid and assistance.
“We believe that the nature of this tragedy will require more than a short-term response, so we are phasing our assistance in a manner that can be effective at all stages of the recovery process,” Mr. Ringler said. “In doing so, we have decided that the initial step which can have the greatest immediate impact is to provide financial contributions to those agencies that will be responding to provide critical services to the victims in the affected states.
“For that reason, the Port Authority will serve as a conduit for financial contributions from staff for the people affected by Hurricane Katrina,” Mr. Ringler said. “The money will be donated to the appropriate charities for distribution.”
In addition to providing financial assistance, the Port Authority will provide the following aid in support of rescue and recovery efforts in the three Gulf Coast states:
- The agency will work with FEMA and the governors’offices in the three states to determine the long-term needs for staff expertise, equipment and material in rebuilding that region’s transportation infrastructure. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates world-class transportation facilities, has committed to provide engineering, architectural and operations staff as needed to assist with the long-term rebuilding process.
- The agency will collaborate with the airlines that operate out of the New York-New Jersey region’s three major airports to provide assistance for the shipment of supplies to the affected areas. The agency also will provide material assistance as requested by New Orleans International Airport.
“Governors Pataki and Codey clearly understand our desire to help these states in their time of need, and have directed us to do whatever we can to be of assistance,” Mr. Ringler said. “During the long term, we will continue to work with the appropriate agencies to assess their needs and to provide whatever help we can.”
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit rail system; the Port Authority-Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.
The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.