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The Wind Devastated Galveston, Now It's Helping The Comeback

The winds (and resulting storm surge) of Hurricane Ike ravaged Galveston, but it's wind that has helped the Port of Galveston get back into the black for the first time since the storm.

Is that ironic, or is it more like rain on your wedding day? We're not sure. And Port CEO Steven Cernak doesn't really care as long as the revenue from moving windfarm equipment continues to pile up.

"Ironic? We're only moving the products through the port -- I mean, maybe I would've done well if I put them vertical in time for the storm," he tells Hair Balls.

But for now he's satisfied just to be the go-to port for importing all the turbines, blades and apparatus involved in putting up windfarms in the U.S.

Gulf Shipper Online says wind-power has become an important part of the port's activities, and Cernak agrees.

He says Galveston doesn't have the tax base the Port of Houston does, so it has to hustle more to attract customers.

"We have to be opportunistic," he says. "A couple of years ago we recognized wind as a niche that wasn't being served and we went after it."

Most of the stuff gets imported from Asia, especially China. Right now it generally goes to Texas wind-farm projects, but Cernak hopes to send stuff all over the Midwest and Canada.

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He's also glad that the relevant companies didn't abandon the port in the wake of Ike.

"There was a moment when it was very easy for someone on the sidelines to just decide to go somewhere else," he says. "They stuck with us, and we're very appreciative."

Tomorrow Cernak will present the latest revenue numbers to the port's board. He can't give specifics now, but says that the port is now in the black for the first time since Ike.

-- Richard Connelly

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