New Orleans dried out today from a weekend of downpours, but the city could be facing more rain throughout the week. Reports of problems with the drainage system are once again plaguing the city which has flooded for the second time in the last two weeks. With the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaching, the New Orleans Council is calling for emergency meetings to review the drainage systems and find out why messages about flood threats are not reaching the citizens of New Orleans in time.
The New Orleans City Council is trying to learn what they can about the work that is going on at this time, and what other projects are scheduled. They also want to keep track of the dollar amount of damage to see if it approaches the threshold for federal assistance. New Orleans is no stranger to harsh weather, and some of the areas in clean-up mode right now, the 7th Ward and the Treme neighborhoods of New Orleans, were dealing with tornado damage and downed power lines at this exact time last year.
With the New Orleans tornado damage, it wasn’t water last year, but the wind that leveled buildings. Aaron Miller, the Director of the New Orleans Homeland Security Office toured the street where the damage was the worst.
“Two individuals were walking down the street in the severe weather. They happened to be right near a building when it collapsed.”
The buildings that were damaged were already slated for demolition, but the tornado damage put the community at further risk.
“It was a dilapidated two-story structure. It had work done and then it was rotting and had work done again. It’d be waiting to fall down for years.”
With the threat of more rain, the New Orleans City Council is trying to get a handle on the drainage and alert system in an effort to stay ahead of problems within the city. Council President Jason Williams has meetings planned for tomorrow in order to find out what happened during this weekend’s floodings and find out what went wrong with the current New Orleans alert system.
“[The meetings are] not to make any presumptions or cast any aspersions, but to really do an autopsy of every single thing that happened between Saturday and Sunday.”
Williams says the most important question he wants to ask is why alerts didn’t go out sooner within the New Orleans city limits. The biggest complaint he is hearing from residents is about their cars.
“If they had gotten word sooner… they could have gotten out and moved their car onto the sidewalk and saved their car.”
New Orleans Councilmember LaToya Cantrell said that more than fifteen businesses have flooded for the second time in two weeks, and the flooding this weekend was worse than the last time.
“The Broad Street Theater had maybe a foot (0.3 meters) of water a couple weeks ago. This time, it was more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of water.”
These areas that are having recent flooding issues have not had standing water problems in the past. Williams says the biggest concern, with the Hurricane Katrina anniversary on the horizon, is that if these areas can’t handle a heavy rain, what will happen if a hurricane hits?
“If we can’t handle that amount of rain, we certainly can’t handle a hurricane. We’ve got some capacity issues, got some serious preparedness issues. That’s a longer conversation, but it’ll certainly start tomorrow.”
Also tomorrow, Governor John Bel Edwards will tour the flood damaged areas to also put together a game plan as the historic anniversary of Hurricane Katrina looms. On Saturday eight inches of rain fell in a short period of time, damaging businesses, homes, and vehicles. People are panicked as they watched the water rise for the second time in as many weeks.
Governor Edwards will start his tour in Treme at Willie Mae’s Restaurant and will move on to North Broad Street at the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club and the Broad Theater. All of these places took on floodwater Saturday for the second time in two weeks.
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The New Orleans neighborhood of Lakeview has also suffered.
“The governor’s tour will then go to Mondo Restaurant and the Lakeview neighborhood, where a number of businesses on Harrison Avenue were flooded in addition to nearby homes and vehicles.”
While the residents of New Orleans are everyone’s biggest concern, NOLA’s economy is largely boosted by tourism and a number or restaurants have suffered flooding and water damage according to Eater. Places like the soon to open Gabrielle Restaurant and The Cheezy Cajun both suffered water damage, and Parkway Bakery and Tavern flooded, and the shed in the back caught on fire during the storm. According to the Po-boy shop’s Facebook page, the restaurant opened back up for business in the late hours of Monday.
Do you think New Orleans can get a plan in place before the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina?
[Featured Image by Gerald Herbert/AP Images]