Inaugural ball preps interrupted by a barge collision

NEW ORLEANS –  As guests were arriving for Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s inaugural ball at Mardi Gras World, emergency workers were gathering to investigate the cause of a barge crash nearby.

New Orleans Fire Superintendent Timothy McConnell said a barge struck the wharf behind Mardi Gras World at about 7 p.m. Monday night, damaging one of the buildings that’s part of the sprawling, float-making operation.

McConnell also said the impact of the crash caused a section of the wharf to be “partially collapsed into the Mississippi River.”

The Mayor’s inaugural ball was being held in another part of Mardi Gras World, and went on as planned, but the accident was close enough to that event that the city’s Office of Homeland Security joined the emergency response.

McConnell says the area will remain closed until engineers can “evaluate the structural integrity” of the damaged building and wharf.

So far, no injuries have been reported, and the Coast Guard has begun an investigation into what caused the crash.

The damage to Mardi Gras World and the wharf can be seen below in this video, courtesy of L.j. Sandras: