New Or­leans to re­view flood-drain sys­tem

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS -

NEW OR­LEANS — New Or­leans is dry­ing out af­ter tor­ren­tial rains flooded parts of the city for the sec­ond time in two weeks. The City Coun­cil has called a spe­cial meet­ing for to­day so mem­bers can get in­for­ma­tion on whether the city’s flood drainage sys­tem is work­ing prop­erly.

State Sen. J.P. Mor­rell said he was set­ting up a town hall­style meet­ing be­cause “it’s time for a com­pre­hen­sive, lo­cal overview of the sta­tus of flood pro­tec­tion in New Or­leans.”

“The city said all pump­ing sta­tions were up and run­ning, and yet many of us flooded,” may­oral can­di­date Michael Bag­neris said in a news re­lease Sun­day. “This presents a se­ri­ous con­cern if our city’s max­i­mum pump­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties are un­able to keep up with a rain­storm dur­ing hur­ri­cane sea­son, even an ex­treme one.”

Parts of the city also flooded two weeks ago, but the July 22 rain caused mostly street flood­ing.

Still, this is far from the first time heavy rains have flooded the city, hur­ri­cane sea­son or not.

In May 1995, floods did more than $3 bil­lion in dam­age and killed six peo­ple in the New Or­leans metro area. “The May 1995 event af­fected a much larger area and lasted longer,” Danielle Man­ning, a me­te­o­rol­o­gist with the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice, said Mon­day.

The city got more rain at once than the drainage sys­tem is de­signed for, Sew­er­age and Wa­ter Board spokesman Lisa Jack­son said Mon­day. The sys­tem’s 24 pumps can move out an inch of rain in the first hour and a half-inch each hour af­ter that — the same fig­ures board spokes­men have been pro­vid­ing for decades.

How­ever, one pump­ing sta­tion recorded get­ting 9.4 inches in three hours Sat­ur­day, Jack­son said.

Flooded cars were be­ing towed to R&S Auto Ser­vice, where sev­eral cars flooded Sat­ur­day. “We tried to move as much stuff as pos­si­ble … but there weren’t enough high spots,” co-owner Glo­ria St. Pierre said Mon­day. She said her of­fice flooded about 16 inches deep, with 20 inches in the shop.

One sight in par­tic­u­lar struck her Sat­ur­day: The wa­ter in the street along Bayou St. John was higher than that in the bayou, which runs out into Lake Pontchar­train.

Sat­ur­day’s three-hour to­tal was sim­i­lar to 1995, when three-hour to­tals hit 9.7 inches at the New Or­leans air­port in sub­ur­ban Ken­ner, and 10.3 inches at Audubon Park.

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