‘There is a need to be well-prepared’: Localized flooding possible next week as Harvey strengthens

NEW ORLEANS — The city is preparing for heavy rainfall over the next week as Tropical Storm Harvey is expected to become a hurricane before it hits Texas.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, in an press conference Thursday morning, said five-10 inches of rain is predicted from Sunday-mid-week if the storm continues on its current path. Those rainfall totals could double if rain bands stick around and hover over New Orleans.

“There is no need to panic,” Landrieu said. “There is need to be well-prepared.”

Officials reiterated Thursday that residents should clean the front of their catch basins, and sand bags will be available soon.

The most important thing residents can do is follow Nola Ready for updates.

Landrieu said he doesn’t anticipate an evacuation, but the storm is very unpredictable at this point and things are subject to change.

Three of the 17 pumps that were out during the Aug. 5 flooding have been repaired, and one of three turbines that powers the drainage system and pumps is back online. There are also emergency generators and increased manpower in place.

Although the drainage capacity has improved since the Aug. 5 flood, the city is still in a diminished drainage capacity.

Even if the city was at full capacity, if all the rain that is expected does fall, the city will still see localized flooding.

“We think everything is going to be OK, but we can’t predict the weather,” Landrieu said. “We just don’t know yet.”

Landrieu spent much of the press conference defending his administration for being left in the dark about widespread problems with the Sewerage and Water Board, problems that contributed to severe floods Aug. 5.

Although city officials initially said that all pumps were operating, it was later learned that 17 of the city’s 120 pumps were not working, with many of those in areas that were hardest hit by the flood.

Sewerage and Water Board Director Cedric Grant retired because of the failure, and other Sewerage and Water Board employees have been fired or resigned for not being honest about the pumps.

The city’s problems worsened a few days later, when a fire damaged the city’s only working turbine that powers the city’s water pumps. On Tuesday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that Grant has stepped down and an emergency management team is in place to manage day-to-day operations at the Sewerage and Water Board.

Check back with WGNO.com for updates on Harvey.