Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday signed a declaration of emergency for the New Orleans area after a fire at a Sewerage & Water Board plant hindered the area's already-weakened ability to battle floods.
Meanwhile, Mayor Landrieu asked a contractor to provide 14 backup generators to support power already being provided by Entergy New Orleans to run the city’s pumps, after the fire damaged one of the SW&B’s five ancient turbines that power the agency’s system of pumps and its water treatment plant.
Three of those turbines were already offline for repairs, leaving the city, as of last night, with only one working turbine.
Scattered showers and thunderstorms are likely in New Orleans on Thursday and Friday, with h…
Landrieu could not give an estimated repair time for newly damaged turbine, though his spokesman said the backup generators were due to arrive within 48 hours.
“I want to ensure the people of New Orleans that we are doing all we can to shore up our drainage system,” Landrieu said.
Public schools will also remain closed through Friday.
The late-morning announcement was Landrieu’s fourth on the fire and its impact the on city’s already-beleaguered system since he learned of the problem early Thursday, a sign the mayor was seeking to restore the image of sure-footedness in a crisis his administration has projected throughout his tenure.
The number of pumps that were out of service in Saturday's flooding was 16, not 14 as previo…
That image was imperiled last week after the SW&B communicated misleading information about the system’s capacity to handle last week’s deluge of rainfall and subsequent flooding.
Amid rising public outrage, SW&B Executive Director Cedric Grant announced Monday that he would retire in November. SW&B General Superintendent Joe Becker and communications director Lisa Martin submitted resignations not long after that, after Landrieu publicly called for their firings.
After the snafu, Landrieu has taken a “trust but verify”attitude toward the embattled SW&B, he said Thursday. He visited the affected site himself late last night before calling Edwards and alerting him of the problem, as well as sending out a 3 a.m. alert to residents.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration is looking to bring in a private company to temporaril…
"This is a serious situation but its not something to be panicked about," Edwards said.
Edwards added that he signed an emergency declaration for Orleans “out of an abundance of caution,” a phrase Landrieu and other officials consistently used.
Landrieu went on to discuss his administration's desire to have a private company manage the agency while it stabilizes. That company will also provide an “after-action” report on the SW&B system’s capacity to handle the heavy rains that have plagued New Orleans in recent weeks.
Much of New Orleans is at high risk of flooding during the next 24 to 48 hours because a fire overnight damaged the power source that runs most of the city’s pumps, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said early Thursday.
The 14 2-megawatt backup generators will be provided by the emergency contractor the SW&B’s uses in case of crisis, the same contractor that is used by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness office, said Landrieu spokesman Ryan Berni.
While the S&WB does have its own backup power sources -- Entergy lines and diesel generators – they are not robust enough to make up for the turbine's loss. The S&WB can currently power 38 of the 58 pumps that are now operational and drain the east bank west of the Industrial Canal, Landrieu said earlier Thursday.
That’s far less than would be needed in a major storm and, as long as the turbine remains offline, city officials estimated that the city is at risk of major flooding from as little as 2 inches of rain in a hour.
Orleans Parish School Board Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. said all public schools in the city would remain closed Friday.