New Orleans to review flood-drain system
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.