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Barges washed onto San Jose Island heading back into the water

The first of the six vessels was moved from the beach Monday
Posted at 6:58 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 16:56:55-05

After more than two years, the barges washed onto San Jose Island by Hurricane Harvey are making their way back into the water.

Kirby Corporation Vice President Public & Government Affairs Matt Woodruff told KRIS 6 News the process has started, and the first day went well.

The first barge was moved successfully on Monday, but it took some preparation. The areas between the barges and the water were re-graded to create a path for the ships' re-entry. Woodruff said crews also were mindful of not causing disruption to the areas' vegetation and animals.

Then, the Kirby Corporation, which now owns Higman Marine -- the barges' owners when the storm hit -- place inflatable rollers horizontally under the barges, which allows them to be gently glided back into the water.

After they are far enough into the water, Woodruff said, a tugboat picks the barge up and takes it to the shipyard, where it can be repaired.

"They made really good progress on the first one," Woodruff said.

The project could be complete by the end of the month, but inclement weather also could extend the project.

"A cold front could shut it down for a few days," he said, adding that rain or rough seas could push work into March.