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Great Lakes Frozen - 2003-03-13

Even though spring has officially arrived in the United States, some parts of the country continue suffering the effects of several weeks of freezing temperatures. As George Dwyer tells us, the freezing of the Great Lakes area could impact on the area’s economy.

The ice on Lake Superior is so thick that vital navigation channels remain impassable. Vast stretches from Duluth in Minnesota to Montreal, Canada have frozen over. With tugboats moored and barges idle, the Coast Guard Cutter "Mobile Bay" received the emergency call to help break the ice. It usually breaks ice off Green Bay, Wisconsin. But now the deep freeze can be found as far south as Chicago's Lake Michigan shoreline.

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Already workers have been laid off and companies are turning to more expensive means of shipment.

"If it's longer than that, you start to get into some more major disruptions right down the supply chain."

The "Mobile Bay" is also trying to open the way for tugs and barges in the Port of Indiana where shipments of iron ore and steel have been waiting for the last two weeks. Holly Headland runs a fleet of tugboats.

"We are losing 30 to 50 thousand dollars a week every week that we're not moving steel."

Many celebrate the cutter's arrival but if it doesn't come back for another 25 years, no one will complain.