Rain in fore­cast; pumps don’t work

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Stacey Plai­sance and Michael Kun­zel­man Brett Duke, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune

NEW OR­LEANS» Louisiana’s gover­nor de­clared a state of emer­gency in New Or­leans on Thurs­day as the city’s mal­func­tion­ing wa­ter-pump­ing sys­tem and the threat of more rain left some neigh­bor­hoods at greater risk of flood­ing.

The city scram­bled to re­pair fire-dam­aged equip­ment at a power plant and shore up its drainage sys­tem, less than a week af­ter a flash flood from tor­ren­tial rain over­whelmed the city’s pump­ing sys­tem and in­un­dated many neigh­bor­hoods.

Gov. John Bel Edwards de­scribed his emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure. He and Mayor Mitch Lan­drieu tried to calm the jan­gled nerves of res­i­dents still an­gry about the city’s re­sponse to last weekend’s flood­ing.

“Ob­vi­ously this is a se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion, but it’s not some­thing to be pan­icked about,” Edwards said at a City Hall news con­fer­ence.

Lan­drieu urged res­i­dents of some wa­ter­logged neigh­bor­hoods to pre­pare for an­other pos­si­ble round of flood­ing by mov­ing ve­hi­cles to higher ground. All of the city’s pub­lic schools were closed Thurs­day and were sched­uled to be closed again Friday.

Jamie Hill, a res­i­dent of the Mid-City neigh­bor­hood, which has flooded twice in the past month, was clear­ing mud, sand, grass and other de­bris from the storm drain near her home. Her car flooded in an ear­lier down­pour a few weeks ago.

She said she’s learned her les­son and now moves her car any­time it rains.

“I’m do­ing what I can, not that it will re­ally mat­ter if the pumps aren’t work­ing,” she said.

The city’s in­fra­struc­ture was crum­bling for years be­fore the dev­as­ta­tion un­leashed in 2005 by levee breaches in Hur­ri­cane Katrina’s af­ter­math.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment ear­marked bil­lions of dol­lars for re­pairs and up­grades af­ter the hur­ri­cane, but the prob­lems have per­sisted. Streets are pock­marked with pot­holes and sink­holes.

The city’s wa­ter sys­tem has been plagued by leaks from bro­ken pipes and power out­ages.

New Or­leans’ mu­nic­i­pal pump­ing sys­tem is sup­posed to move wa­ter out of the low-ly­ing city.

Hav­ing the sys­tem crip­pled in Au­gust could not come at a worse time for New Or­leans, be­cause the Gulf Coast is in the mid­dle of hur­ri­cane sea­son.

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