New Orleans braces for more rain as it tries to clean up last storm


New Orleans is heading into the weekend as the underdog in its battle against impending rain as it continues to recover from last weekend's storms.

While the city has 24 pumping stations to manage excess rainfall, six of the city's most powerful pumps were offline for routine maintenance or mechanical issues when several inches of rain fell on certain neighborhoods Saturday, Ryan Berni, the deputy mayor of external affairs, told CNN. Six smaller "constant duty" pumps also were out, general superintendent Joseph Becker said Tuesday. With the system's draining capacity in the affected areas thus cut nearly in half, hundreds of homes and businesses found water seeping through their doors, with about 15 businesses flooding for the second time in two weeks.

"If we can't handle that amount of rain, we certainly can't handle a hurricane," City Council President Jason Williams said Monday. "We've got some capacity issues, got some serious preparedness issues."

7 PHOTOS
Six Flags in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina
See Gallery
Six Flags in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina
(PHOTO: INSIDE EDITION)
(PHOTO: INSIDE EDITION)
(PHOTO: INSIDE EDITION)
(PHOTO: INSIDE EDITION)
(PHOTO: INSIDE EDITION)
(PHOTO: INSIDE EDITION)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

And, even if all of the city's 24 pumps were operating at full capacity, they would only be able to move out an inch of rain in the first hour and 1/2 inch each hour after that. Six to 10 inches of rain have fallen throughout the city in the past week, and, on Saturday, one pumping station saw 9.4 inches pour down within three hours.

"We are at risk if we have a massive rain event that comes up at the last minute and creates the kind of flooding we had," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu at a 3 a.m. news conference Thursday, referring to the weekend flooding. "The power we have available to us now will not be enough to pump the city out in the time needed."

The six pumps that were unavailable Saturday, plus two similar ones in farther flung parts of the city, are still offline, said Berni, who did not know when they'd be back in action.

Showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast for New Orleans every day from Thursday through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. This week's floods further point out the city's weak infrastructure, the result of limited federal funding and a tight city budget.

"It's a system that was broken before [Hurricane Katrina] and that was more broken after,"Landrieu said to CNN.

10 PHOTOS
Katrina 10 year: New Orleans recovery through the years (2006-2014)
See Gallery
Katrina 10 year: New Orleans recovery through the years (2006-2014)
NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 7: A sign in front of a home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina reads, 'No Bulldozing' even though it is designated as being 'in imminent danger of collapse' by city inspectors on January 7, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The New Orleans City council has agreed to wait two more weeks before starting to tear down damaged homes as a federal judge decides if he will hear a challenge from local community activists. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 10: Keith Jackson takes a picture of the rubble surrounding the remains of his aunt's home in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana on January 10, 2006. The home was destroyed when the Industrial Canal levee was breeched and floodwaters inundated the neighborhood, during Hurricane Katrina, in August 2005. (Photo by Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
A crushed school bus sits under a large barge, Sunday, February 12, 2006, that broke through the damaged levee that flooded the 9th Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 8: A New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets fan holds up a sign during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 8, 2006 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Lakers defeated the Hornets 113-107 in the Hornets first game in new Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - APRIL 20: Election workers prepare in the Voting Machine Warehouse which will serve as a polling location April 20, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The New Orleans mayoral election will be held April 22, and if none of the 23 candidates receives a majority of the vote, the top two will compete in a runoff scheduled for May 20. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 27: Cynthia Hamilton waits for a ride in front of a darkened building after helping clean her mother's damaged house in the Lower 9th Ward August 27, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The neighborhood is still without electricity in certain areas. The first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is August 29th. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 25: A fan holds up a sign during the Monday Night Football game against the Atlanta Falcons on September 25, 2006 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tonight's game marks the first time since Hurricane Katrina struck last August, that the Superdome, which served as a temporary shelter to thousands of stranded victims in the wake of Katrina, has played host to an NFL game. The Saints won the game 23-3. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - JUNE 10: Palazzola Simmons attempts to hook up a wire for a generator in the doorway of the old motor home he is currently living in with three other people in the Lower Ninth Ward June 10, 2007 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Simmons' home was on the property but was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Most of the people living in the motor home say they cannot afford rent in the city because prices have increased following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 15: B.W. Cooper public housing development residents Charlton Porter (C) and Lioneisha Dales walk past a partially demolished building in their complex December 15, 2007 in New Orleans. The demolition has sparked protests and lawsuits as affordable housing stocks have dwindled and homelessness has doubled following Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Compounding New Orleans' struggle to manage its floodwaters, the mayor's office also announced Thursday that the city has lost service to one of its turbines that powers most of the pumping stations working in the East Bank area, severely diminishing the system's capacity to drain storm water from its streets.

"The city is 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," Landrieu said.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

Read Full Story