Officials say S&WB quickly identified and resolved issues during Monday’s heavy rains
NEW ORLEANS — The interim head of the Sewerage and Water Board said despite a few issues that came up during heavy rains Monday, overall the response was good and “we identified issues and worked very quickly to resolve those issues.”
Interim Sewerage and Water Board Manager Paul Rainwater said there was localized street flooding because four inches of rain fell in just a few hours, but 107 out of 120 pumps were working, as were three out of six turbines.
Two pumps went down at Pump Station No. 3, and at Pump Station No. 17, they had to rely on a generator for power, but that’s why the redundancies are in place, Rainwater said.
“We have more power than we’ve had in the last two weeks,” Rainwater said.
At the Canal Boulevard underpass, which frequently floods, videos from the scene showed a pipe had burst and caused more water than usual. Workers are fixing the pipe, Rainwater said.
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said there was localized flooding at bridge underpasses, which is common, and a few cars were stranded, but there were no calls for rescue.
“The important message: Please do not drive through standing water,” he said.
The Sewerage and Water Board has come under heavy criticism over the past couple of months after a number of missteps.
A heavy rain event on Aug. 5 caused widespread flooding in several New Orleans neighborhoods. The Sewerage and Water Board initially claimed that the drainage system (pumps and the turbines that power the pumps) was working at full capacity, but officials later retracted that statement when it was learned that 17 pumps were not functioning during the flood.
The failure prompted the termination of several S&WB employees, as well as the early retirement of its director, Cedric Grant.
A few days later, a fire at the only functioning turbine left the city vulnerable to flooding as tropical systems came to the area during the height of hurricane season.
The city has brought in an emergency interim management team to oversee the department while repairs continue on the drainage pumps and turbines.
Then, the city confirmed that the S&WB has double-billed almost 5,000 customers due to a “shortage of meter-reading personnel and a high turnover rate in the department.”
Here’s the full update: