The city of New Orleans could remain under a state of emergency through Thursday morning, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The city remains largely shut down as residents await the arrival of freezing rain and sleet to the area.
Although ice has not begun to accumulate on city streets, Landrieu still encouraged residents not to drive or walk around in places that may freeze over. The winter weather is expected to arrive this afternoon, bringing with it concerns about traffic accidents. The New Orleans area is under a winter storm warning through Wednesday morning.
“As everybody knows, two things are going to happen today. It’s going to get colder and it’s going to get wet,” Landrieu said. “And when it gets colder, and it goes below freezing, that wet is going to turn into ice. And when ice events hit an area that’s not prepared for it, it creates clear and present dangers for people in a number of different ways.”
Those who venture out, Landrieu said, should be on alert for roads and bridges covered in and power lines and tree limbs fallen by ice.
“We are very concerned about protecting again the loss of life,” Landrieu said. “We are asking people to stay home.”
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has crews monitoring elevated roadways throughout the city, Landrieu said. The New Orleans Fire Department has staged equipment and personal in the Lower 9th Ward and Algiers, in the case that bridges to those areas become impassable.
All flights into and out of Louis Armstrong International Airport were canceled Tuesday. No flight service is expected on Wednesday either, the airport’s director of aviation Iftikhar Ahmad said.
City Hall is closed until Thursday. Regular garbage and recycling pickups have been suspended for Tuesday and Wednesday, the city announced Tuesday morning.
The city’s 311 information phone line, which usually operates daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will operate 24 hours a day until further notice, the city said. Residents should call for storm related information and to report non-life threatening emergencies and downed tree limbs. For downed power lines, call 911, the city said.
Also early on Tuesday, more than 2,100 Entergy restoration workers were being assembled and staged throughout the city to respond to potential power outages caused by ice on power lines and downed trees.
The Sewerage and Water Board said drainage pump stations were still 100 percent operational. The water board’s offices are closed Tuesday and Wednesday, but the call center, at 504.529.2837, remains open. The agency advised residents not to dump fats, oils, greases or other substances that might block drains down sewer pipes.