We keep all those affected by Hurricane Ida in our thoughts and prayers. As relatively new Lakeview residents in New Orleans, we watched with dismay the needless flooding caused by the shutdown of the power for the pumping system. We were fortunate to avoid getting water in our house, but many weren't.
Bottom line: We need to get competent people in the mayor’s office, Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and Entergy to make sure that the pumps and drains will work promptly during storms. An immediate priority should be to implement the recommendations of the detailed 2012 task force study on S&WB.
There is no excuse to not have a robust system of back-up generators with manned personnel at each pump site. And until the 25-hertz motors for the older pumps are replaced, we must have reliable frequency converters to convert the 60-hertz electricity to 25-hertz for those older motors that require it.
At the critical time during Sunday when the rain came down hard, it was important for the pumps to work without fail, without delay. But three key pumps were inoperable before the hurricane arrived, and the storm knocked out the power for all the pumps. Some had working backup generators, but it took time to get them going. Some stayed off. It doesn’t help much for them to start working after the water crests. By then the damage is done.
We are lucky that the pumps themselves are still remarkably sound after more than 100 years. They were invented/patented by New Orleanian Baldwin Wood and designed for the city. When working, they can remove about an inch of water in the first hour and a half-inch per hour thereafter. If they were all working/powered from the outset, all flooding in New Orleans could have been prevented.
But their Achilles heel is the power issue.
consultant, professor emeritus