Texas on Monday edged toward recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey as shipping
channels, oil pipelines and refineries restarted some operations and authorities lifted an evacuation order for the area around a once-burning chemical plant.
Port operations across the U.S. Gulf Coast oil and gas hub were resuming, although many still had restrictions on vessel draft, according to U.S. Coast Guard updates.
U.S. gasoline prices fell in expectation that the area can get back on its feet after Harvey wrought a path of destruction stretching for more than 300 miles (480 km), killing an estimated 50 people and displacing more than 1 million.
Benchmark U.S. gasoline futures fell by more than 3 percent on Monday.
The Coast Guard allowed some barge traffic to enter Port Arthur, Texas, home of the country's largest oil refinery, and is considering allowing ships to enter on Tuesday, a spokesman said.
Flooding led to a series of fires at the Arkema SA chemical plant in Crosby, a town of about 2,300 people some 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Houston. Containers of the chemicals, which are unstable if not kept refrigerated, started igniting on Thursday after power outages cut off cooling systems.
Local firefighters under the watch of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality performed a controlled burn of the organic peroxides on Sunday in order to eliminate any vestiges and reduce the danger.
On Monday, the company said the Crosby Fire Department had lifted a 1.5-mile (2.4-km) evacuation zone around the plant, allowing neighbors to return to their homes, and that the company had opened an assistance center to help those affected find temporary housing.
The lifting of the order may help residents like Paul Mincey, a 31-year-old tugboat engineer who has been kept out the ranch home he shares with his girlfriend, return to normal.
"It could be full of snakes for all we know. We have no idea what's in there," Mincey said from aboard a tugboat in the Houston Ship Channel, which he said was polluted by floating railroad ties, trees and trash strewn by the storm.
Like others forced from the evacuation zone, Mincey said he was eager to assess water damage from the storm and begin repairs while hoping for financial aid to deal with property damage.