As Tropical Storm Nate sets its sights on New Orleans, the obvious question remains: Can the pumps do the job? 

The Weather Channel posted that exact question in a video as it prepares to cover the storm, expected to become a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall along the Gulf Coast. 

The most recent projections show New Orleans squarely in the storm's path. 

Can't see the video below? Click here. 


The 110-year-old drainage system's effectiveness was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year after large flooding events hit the city just weeks apart (July 22 and Aug. 5). After the second incident, it was revealed that many of the pumps were down or inactive during heavy rains, and the system was operating at a diminished capacity due to power generation issues. 

Several top officials retired during the fallout, and the Sewerage and Water Board has recently had issues with fires at turbine locations. 

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and interim S&WB director Paul Rainwater said on Thursday that 108 of the system's 120 pumps are currently online, and three of the city's five power turbines are active. Those numbers are increased from the July and August storms. 

“We're not where we want to be with our pumping capacity, but we're better than we were,” Councilman Jason Williams said during the briefing.

officials added that the pumps would be manned 24/7, and that members of the Louisiana National Guard would be on hand to provide help and information.

The video the The Weather Channel shows images of the pumping system, one of the largest in the world, and asks whether it's up for the job. 

"A nervous New Orleans is watching Tropical Storm Nate and hoping it's not too much for the pumps to handle," said Danielle Banks, a TWC meteorologist. 

Tropical Storm Nate is expected to begin impacting the New Orleans area by Saturday morning, and is currently projected to drop between 2 and 6 inches of ran on portions of Louisiana. 

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Landrieu have declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm, which is expected to make landfall as early as Saturday night. 

The storm is already responsible for as many as 22 deaths as it roiled in the Caribbean so far this week. 

“When you get 5 to 10 inches of rain in two or three hours, you’re going to expect to see some flooding,” regardless of how many pumps are operating, Landrieu said.

“An expectation of being dry 100 percent of the time when you live in New Orleans is not a reasonable expectation,” he added.