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New Orleans flooding and pumping system crisis by the numbers - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

New Orleans flooding and pumping system crisis by the numbers

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Dwayne Boudreaux Jr., the owner of Circle Food Store, dumps out dirty water Monday that was vacuumed up from the store after weekend flooding in New Orleans.  This image is for use with this specific article only. Dwayne Boudreaux Jr., the owner of Circle Food Store, dumps out dirty water Monday that was vacuumed up from the store after weekend flooding in New Orleans. This image is for use with this specific article only.
By Nicole Chavez CNN

(CNN) -- Louisiana's governor declared a state of emergency in New Orleans as officials and residents scramble in the aftermath of last Saturday's heavy storm that left the city underwater this week.

New Orleans was left with widespread damage, a series of malfunctions in the city's drainage system and criticism of local officials as they revealed system failures days after the flooding.

The city has struggled with its drainage system for years. Some streets have potholes and sinkholes, catch basins are clogged or broken and water pipes are broken.

But this time, unlike Hurricane Katrina, rain falling in a very short period of time caused the flooding. The rain tested the drainage system and not the chain of levees, flood walls and pumps that were recently built by the federal government.

Here's what this year's flooding looks like by the numbers:

10 inches of rain

Within three to four hours as much as 8 to 10 inches of rain fell across New Orleans on Saturday.

"The rate of rainfall in many neighborhoods of the city was one of the highest recorded in recent history," the city said in a news release.

The storms caused widespread street flooding, damaging "a couple hundred" properties," city officials said.

The National Weather Service determined that Saturday's storms caused a 100-year flood, meaning there's usually only a 1% chance that a flooding of such magnitude happens any given year.

"There is no drainage system in the world that can handle that immediately," Sewerage & Water Board Executive Director Cedric Grant told CNN affiliate WDSU.

The city's water pumps can only process an inch of rain in the first hour of operation, Grant said.

16 drainage pumps failed

New Orleans uses 121 pumps across the city's neighborhoods to suck water out of storm drains and canals and push it into a nearby lake or other water bodies.

When 16 pumps malfunctioned over the weekend, things got even worse for a drainage system that already was working over capacity and streets began flooding.

The problems continued piling up for New Orleanians throughout the week.

On Wednesday, a fire took down a turbine that powers several pumping stations serving in the city, leaving twice as many pumps as those that failed on Saturday out of service, the city said.

With the city's pumping capacity weakened and a new round of severe weather threatening the city, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Thursday and schools throughout the city will remain closed Friday.

$2 billion repairs

After Hurricane Katrina and Rita in 2005, New Orleans was awarded $2 billion in grants for roads and infrastructure by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A portion of that money is going specifically for street and drainage pipes repairs, CNN affiliate WGNO reported.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said this week that plans for those repairs and improvements are still ongoing.

The pumps that drain rainwater from New Orleans' streets are not the same pumps that the US Army Corps of Engineers built after Katrina as part of a $14 billion effort to fortify the city against tropical events.

4 city officials asked to resign

Landrieu requested the resignations of four top officials, including the director and the top engineer at the municipal water utility.

"I completely and totally understand and feel the people's frustration after the flood, and more importantly some of the misinformation that they have been given," Landrieu said in a news conference earlier this week.

The firings follow the mounting criticism targeted at city officials, especially those within the water agency, for the recent flood.

Three employees with the water utility and the director of the public works department will leave their jobs in the coming weeks and months, a spokesperson for the city said.

TM & © 2017 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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