New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Saturday morning that an electrical turbine damaged by a recent electrical fire is back online and running.
But while the power plant running the drainage system is now back to the capacity it was at during last week's flood, Landrieu warned that the city remains vulnerable to heavy rains.
In response to a question about logs released Friday that appear to show that working pumps were not turned on for hours after last weekend's flooding began, Landrieu said he had not reviewed the logs personally. But, he said, he wouldn't be surprised if more problems are uncovered going forward.
The logs suggest problems that go beyond those revealed by Sewerage & Water Board officials at a City Council meeting this week, in which they conceded for the first time that the city's drainage system had been operating well below its capacity in the Aug. 5 flood.
Landrieu said that 103 of the city's 120 pumps are now operational, and backup generators are in place, with others en route from Miami. The system, however, remains at a diminished capacity that led to the recent flooding.
"We will not have what we need in the event of a deluge or a major rain event," Landrieu said. " ... We're still learning new information and investigating the capacity of pumps and pump stations."
Landrieu's statements come hours after records released by the Sewerage and Water Board indicate New Orleans' complex pumping system was plagued by a host of setbacks last Saturday as water filled the city's streets, damaging cars, residences and businesses.
The records themselves are hand-written and difficult to interpret without the insight of experts. But Matt McBride, a local mechanical engineer and author of the Fix The Pumps blog, pointed out a number of eyebrow-raising issues to WWL-TV:
• A request to turn on a Lakeview pumping station didn't come until just before 8 p.m. Saturday. That's about five hours after heavy rain began.
• Major pumps in stations 2, 3 and 7 in Treme, the 7th Ward and City Park and Lakeview were off for hours-long stretches on Saturday.
• In many instances, pumps were not turned on because officials at the S&WB power plant refused of power requests that came from employees at pumping stations. It's unclear why that happened. "There could be a number of reasons that a pump can't be turned on, among them repairs on other equipment outside the station or a lack of power being available and needed for other stations," McBride said.
• The station that drains neighborhoods including Treme and Mid-City was never able to deliver more than 73 percent of its pumping capacity.
Landrieu declined to address the observations on Saturday, saying that the after-action report would provide insight into the logs.
Scroll below for a recap from Mayor Mitch Landrieu's press conference below. Can't see updates below? Click here.
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