Officials fired over New Orleans' response to torrential rain, flooding

  • Officials fired over New Orleans' response to torrential rain, flooding

Officials fired over New Orleans' response to torrential rain, flooding

Last weekend, New Orleans saw some of the most intense rain and flooding it's had in a decade, testing the limits of the city's pumping system.

The fire Wednesday night damaged one of the turbines that powers numerous city's pumping stations, reducing the city's ability to drain stormwater from the streets, according to Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office.

Some of the only parishes not affected by the damaged Claiborne Avenue station are New Orleans East, the Lower Ninth Ward, and Algiers.

All neighborhoods west of the Industrial Canal risk flooding, according to the Office of the Mayor. Some of New Orleans's pump stations rely on a turn-of-the-20th-Century power plant that's not able to power every pump during a heavy downpour. Landrieu said he also wants the Sewerage and Water Board to fire its superintendent and communications director.

The Orleans Parish School Board said in a statement Thursday that schools are closed Thursday "out of abundance of caution".

At a 2 a.m. press conference, Landrieu says that the turbine issue will be resolved in the next 24 to 48 hours.

In anticipation of more rain, NOLA officials are already "urging residents in the affected area to move their vehicles to higher ground, take necessary actions to protect personal property, and stay off of roadways during rainstorms unless an emergency makes it absolutely necessary to do so". The Office of the Mayor had no further details on the fire.

Some of the pumps "were offline due to maintenance" and another "pump station operated at just 52 percent capacity", CBS News reported.

"The power we have available to us now will not be enough to pump the city out in the time needed", Landrieu said. It could, and will, happen in other parts of the Southeast as well - but they may be better prepared to handle it than a city below sea level with a crippled pump system.

Landreau said the city had an "army" of people working to restore the downed turbine, and was hopeful that it could be restored before the day is through.

The National Weather Service of New Orleans forecasts a.25 to.50 inches of rain will fall today.