WATCH: Mayor Cantrell tells residents to brace for 12 hours of freezing weather

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NEW ORLEANS — On Monday morning, Mayor Cantrell held a press conference to discuss preparations as a severe winter storm passes through Southern Louisiana.

Mayor Cantrell was joined by the following city leaders:

  • Michael Antoine, Deputy Director, NOHSEP
  • Sarah Babcock, New Orleans Health Department
  • Ghassan Korban, Executive Director, S&WB
  • Ramsey Green, Deputy Director of Infrastructure
  • Sandra Miller, Vice President of Customer Service, Entergy

“We know that we are facing three challenges right now,” said Mayor Cantrell. “In addition to managing this year’s Mardi Gras in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we now face wintry weather that can compromise our roads, our energy, our pipes and our drinking water.

“For this, there is one key message we have for everyone: We need you to stay home and stay safe. The next couple days will require a great deal of vigilant and safe behavior as we work to get through this together.”

Temporary “No Parking” areas in place in the French Quarter for Mardi Gras will be canceled so that residents can park in front of their homes.

Here is an overview of agency response in preparation for the freezing weather:

PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY

New Orleans Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness

NOHSEP has been monitoring conditions in areas to the north and west of the New Orleans area that are already seeing the impacts of winter weather this morning. There are dangerous road conditions from freezing rain and sleet in many parts of the state right now.

There is still no accumulation forecast for the Metro area, which is good for the New Orleans area, but any water remaining on the roads this afternoon may ice over as temperatures drop below freezing in the early evening hours.

NOHSEP is asking everyone to stay put after 3 p.m. this afternoon until about mid-day Tuesday. And if people must drive tonight or tomorrow morning, be extremely cautious, especially on elevated roadways and bridges. DOTD recommends drivers use US 90 and US 61 as alternate routes to I-10 should roadways ice over.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, New Orleans Police Department, and Department of Public Works will be monitoring road conditions and will provide updates on any road closures. The primary concern with this system in New Orleans is a prolonged period of dangerously cold temperatures.

A Hard Freeze Warning and a Wind Chill Advisory will be in effect from 6 p.m. this evening until 12 p.m. Tuesday. NOHSEP is advising everyone to please take precautions to protect the four “Ps”: people, pets, pipes, and plants.

Finally, NOHSEP has activated the City’s Emergency Operations Center, which includes liaisons from public safety, infrastructure, transportation, and human services coordinating the necessary operations to respond to this winter weather event.

New Orleans Health Department (NOHD)

NOHD has been coordinating all weekend with homeless providers to ensure safe and warm places for everyone to sleep. The following homeless providers are currently open and allowing individuals to remain indoors during the day:

  • Ozanam Inn
  • New Orleans Mission
  • Salvation Army
  • Covenant House
  • City of New Orleans Low Barrier Shelter

PARTNER AGENCIES

Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO)

Residents are reminded that SWBNO not only needs power to operate drainage pumps, but it also needs power to operate the pumps that bring drinking water to you from our plant. A deep freeze like this one is likely to impact the power system in a couple of ways:

  • Higher demand based on residents running water to prevent frozen pipes
  • The likelihood of water freezing in pipes on private property and causing a spike in water main breaks

To avoid a boil water advisory, SWBNO must stay above 20 pounds per square inch. It is highly likely that freezing temperatures will cause water in the pipes on private property to freeze and cause them to burst.

Entergy New Orleans (ENO)

ENO has postponed planned outages and returned all available lines to service. Supply resources are ready to operate when called upon. In some cases, personnel are remaining on-site. However, as in other regions, supply resources will be challenged as we approach this new winter peak. ENO is asking customers to conserve energy where possible. Some ways customers can manage their usage through this period:

  • Lower the thermostat to 68 degrees.
  • Don’t allow warmed air to escape from the home. Use door stoppers.
  • If your power goes out, you can text REG to 36778 or call ENO at 1-800-9OUTAGE to report it.

Customers without power can help in the restoration process by turning off major appliances but leaving on a lamp or other light to indicate when power is restored. Then, gradually turn on other appliances to spread out the increase in power usage over a longer time. If you have a portable generator, use it safely.

SANITATION AND PARKS

Department of Sanitation

Curbside trash and recycling collections have been suspended citywide at eligible properties serviced by the City of New Orleans. Residents are advised to remove all trash and recycling carts from the curb and secure. Citywide collections will resume on Wednesday or the next regularly scheduled collection day at eligible properties. The Gentilly and River Birch landfills are now closed and will remain closed on Tuesday.

Department of Parks and Parkways

Parks and Parkways has activated its freeze plan to ensure that all exposed pipes in all parks, Parkways facilities and Bartholomew Golf Course are protected from freezing temperatures. The Greenhouse freeze plan has been activated to ensure all exposed water lines are protected as well as plant stock.

Here are the Monday/Tuesday closures:

  • Joseph M. Bartholomew Golf Course
  • Jackson Square
  • Armstrong Park
  • Washington Square

Tuesday closures:

  • Brechtel Park
  • Mississippi River Heritage Park

NORDC

Today, all NORD facilities will close at 3 p.m. due to the impending weather event. Reminder, all NORD facilities will be closed in observance of Mardi Gras Day on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Normal operating hours will resume Wednesday, Feb. 17.

TRANSPORTATION

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

The Airport is prepared to open its de-icing pads (three locations) to meet airline requests for aircraft deicing before departures. The Airport is advising passengers to check with their airline for the most accurate flight information. Additional staff will be available to respond if an emergency situation occurs due to weather conditions.

New Orleans Regional Transit Administration

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority continues to monitor road conditions and will maintain service across all modes as long as weather conditions allow us to do so safely. At this time, the agency is planning to operate a regular schedule Tuesday, Feb. 16, across all modes.

For the latest service information, visit RTA’s website at www.RTAforward.org, follow @NewOrleansRTA on Twitter and Facebook, or call the Rideline at 504-248-3900.

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