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NEW ORLEANS – Five employees were taken away in ambulances from the Sewerage and Water Board Headquarters on St. Joseph Street.

According to Lieutenant Jonathan Fourcade, Public Information Officer for New Orleans Emergency Medical Services, all five employees were suffering from heat exhaustion.

Until 6pm, New Orleans is under a heat advisory.

SWBNO Communications Director Rich Rainey told WGNO that the office has had air conditioning issues for a couple of weeks, but at about 2:30 today, a temporary A/C system went out entirely.

Rainey said that fans and water were brought in, and employees continued to serve customers who were still in the lobby.

Why not close the office when the air-conditioning went out? Rainey says “as soon as all the customers in there are served, we will close.”

Lt. Fourcade said the employees were all alert and talking when they were taken into the ambulances.  But one customer said he saw a female employee taken out on a stretcher.

“They carried one lady out and my son asks: ‘Is she dead?'” Hakeem Lewis told his son, “No, she’s not dead. It’s just hot in here.”

According to the SWBD website (, the customer lobby will be open on Friday (June 21) only between 8 a.m. and noon, in order to “avoid the hottest part of the day while the air conditioning unit is under repair… Temporary A/C units will be provided to ensure the safety of our customers and employees.”

Customers with billing issues can also go to the SWBD’s West Bank office, at 4021 Behrman Place, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.