City admits not all pumps working in Saturday’s flood

Vicksburg and Polk Streets in Lakeview

NEW ORLEANS – In a stunning announcement, Deputy Mayor and Director of Sewerage and Water Board, Cedric Grant, revealed that not all of the city’s pumping stations were operational during Saturday’s torrential rain.

In fact, at a meeting with the New Orleans City Council, Grant said that at least 14 pumps in the Lakeview area, out of more than 100 city-wide, were not functioning properly.

Grant offered his resignation today, just three days after severe flooding brought his department and the Mayor Landrieu’s  administration widespread criticism from residents who insisted that the city’s drainage pumps could not possibly have been fully operational.

Turns out, the residents were right.

In announcing his resignation, Grant’s statement included this admission:

“(The) information I have learned over the last 24 hours indicates that some parts of our system did not operate as they should have, which is disappointing because it contradicts information that I was given to provide to the public.”

Further, Grant’s statement suggests that some Sewerage and Water Board employees withheld information from him– and residents– about the pumps’ operation.

“Our staff was not forthright, which is unacceptable… While not the primary cause of flooding, we now know that some pumps were not operational during the weather event and that there were some power generation issues that impacted our ability to fight the flood at its highest capacity. ….. it was inaccurate to suggest the system was operating at its maximum capabilities.”

After touring flooded areas with Governor Edwards yesterday, Mayor Landrieu asserted that he would require an “after action” assessment of how his administration, and the S&WBD in particular, handled the crisis caused by Saturday’s flooding.  The Mayor said today that he wants to know which S&WBD employees failed to do their jobs or withheld actions about pump operations.

Grant’s resignation would seem to bolster residents’ insistence that the city will have more to reveal as its investigation continues.