11/03/2012 15:27 EDT | Updated 01/03/2013 05:12 EST

N.S. container port triples volume in wake of Sandy

The Port of Halifax has been inundated with cargo diverted from the United States because of damage from superstorm Sandy.

Many businesses have been damaged in areas of the U.S. affected by the storm, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Berths have been left useless by power outages or destruction from the storm surge, and ports in the Maritimes have been picking up the slack.

Ashley Dinning, the CEO and managing director of the Halterm Limited container terminal in Halifax, said the fallout from Sandy has tripled the usual number of containers at the site.

"Normally we don't stack containers in this part of the yard over here and as you can see that's quite full at the moment now," he said.

"To avoid ships bunching up in New York waiting for the port to open, our biggest customer here at Halterm decided to discharge not only the Halifax cargo but also the New York cargo."

Cruise ships have also shown up in the region, with the last one leaving Saint John, N.B. on Friday. Natalie Kenrick, of the Halifax Port Authority, said three others docked in Halifax earlier this week to avoid running into the fearsome weather.

"So that represented about 3,000 additional passengers that weren't scheduled to come to the city," she said.

While those cruise ship passengers are probably the last the region will see, at the Halterm container terminal 130 crane operators and other employees are still working in shifts around the clock.

"We've even brought some people out of retirement to do some work," said Dinning.

He hopes to keep the heavy terminal traffic going into next week by convincing other container ship companies to unload in Halifax.