Louisiana officials hope to be clear of extended water issues caused by a recent cold snap by the end of the weekend, but New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said a couple of "difficult days" are still ahead.
Water pressure issues and a boil water order for the east bank of Orleans Parish, New Orleans East and Jefferson Parish will keep schools and offices in both parishes closed Friday. Officials expect them to be reopened Monday.
Landrieu emphasized the worst being over as rising temperatures begin to thaw out southeast Louisiana. He said running faucets to keep pipes from freezing is no longer necessary.
But the thaw could bring other issues such as broken pipes and leaks, which Landrieu encouraged residents to be vigilant in reporting and fixing while city workers do the same.
In Jefferson Parish, Parish President Mike Yenni reported 72 of 82 water main busts have been repaired. He, too, said residents no longer need to run water for freeze protection, and said the east bank of Jefferson Parish should see normal water pressure within the next 24 hours. The boil order, however, will remain in effect.
All Jefferson Parish roadways and overpasses are open, and garbage collection will move forward as scheduled.
Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development Secretary Shawn Wilson said all interstates are open in Louisiana, with the exception of I-110 in Baton Rouge, which will open later this afternoon.
Wilson advised residents to be cautious if needing to travel. While DOTD crews have salted and brined most roadways, pockets of ice may form overnight and be on roardways in the morning.
"We've lost at least five people in the state because of this event," Wilson said. "We don't need to lose anymore."
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ORIGINAL STORY (11 a.m. Thursday)
The boil water advisories in effect for the east bank of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish could last more than a day and critical facilities including hospitals and Louis Armstrong International Airport are grappling with low water pressure, officials said Thursday morning.
Water systems in both parishes are suffering from low pressure brought on by the freezing conditions this week, which have led to broken pipes, leaks and an increase in water consumption as residents drip their faucets. Those problems have caused water pressure to plummet in both parishes, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni said Thursday.
Landrieu warned residents to be prepared for an "extended" bout of potential low pressure, amid other weather related issues.
"We do not know [when the system will return to capacity]," Landrieu said. "So we want to condition everybody right now to hunker down for a little bit more time."
It's not clear when pressure will be restored, though Landrieu and officials with the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board said residents should be prepared for problems to last for more than a day. Further complications could arise as the area begins thawing out on Thursday, which could expose more leaks and broken pipes from which additional water can gush from the system.
With water pressure a growing concern across Louisiana, Jefferson Parish has issued a boil water advisory for the East Bank.
New Orleans' entire East Bank is under a boil water advisory after a drop in water pressure Thursday morning, according to a release from the …
The freeze has also shut down some roadways including interstate highways in Orleans and Jefferson.
East Jefferson General Hospital and Ochsner's main campus have both switched to well water or bottled water to cope with the low pressure and some surgeries have been canceled at Ochsner, Yenni said.
Additionally, 11 Ochsner satellite clinics closed Thursday at noon, and three fitness centers also closed, Ochsner spokeswoman Giselle Hecker said in a statement.
Tulane Lakeside Hospital for Women and Children's outpatient clinics on South Interstate 10 Service Road in Metairie also closed Thursday and rescheduled their patients, spokeswoman Sarah Balyeat said. Both that hospital and Tulane Medical Center were using bottled water for drinking, food preparation and handwashing.
Balyeat said the clinics would remain closed on Friday.
Lakeside Mall in Metairie closed its doors to customers and its tenants Thursday, citing low water pressure. Esplanade Mall in Kenner, however, remained open, with regular hours, according to those businesses' Facebook pages.
At the airport, the pressure is so low that restrooms have been taken out of service and food options are limited, according to officials. Portable toilets are being brought in, officials said.
Municipal and Traffic Court in New Orleans, which closed earlier this week when conditions worsened, will remain closed on Friday and reopen on Monday, court administrator Debra Hall said.
In one glimmer of good news, Entergy now believes it has enough power for the region and is no longer asking residents to limit their electrical use, CEO Charles Rice said. The utility had called on residents to conserve power after heaters and other power-hogging equipment was putting a strain on their systems.
Check back for more.
Staff writer Jessica Williams contributed to this report.
So you're under a boil water advisory?