As Harvey approaches, N.O. still has diminished pumping capacity

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NEW ORLEANS – Emergency officials are keeping a close eye on Tropical Depression Harvey as it strengthens in the Gulf of Mexico.

The storm is heading toward the Texas Coast, but there is still concern in New Orleans where 15 of the 120 drainage pumps are still broken.

HARVEY
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- Projected Path
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City leaders are telling residents not to panic, but are warning them that the storm could bring 5 to 10 inches of rain, possibly double that, depending on how long the storm’s rain bands stick around.

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The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority closed a large barge gate on the Lake Borne surge barrier in Advance of expected high tides.

“We'll monitor the storm and see what it's going to do. The biggest thing initially we'll look at is the tide increase and if we have to close any of the smaller flood gates that are out there; whether they're on the Industrial Canal or down in New Orleans East or St. Bernard,” Derek Boese, SLFPA-East director, said.

NOPD has staged barricades in areas prone to flooding such as underpasses. The city also repositioned assets such as high water vehicles, rescue boats and additional search and rescue teams ready to respond to an emergency associated with Harvey.

Although it is still vulnerable, the Sewerage and Water Board is also making needed repairs, with three drainage pumps and one power turbine back online, the city says. 

“While it is a fact the drainage capacity has improved since the August 5 flooding, we remain in a state of diminished capacity with the drainage pumping until all the turbines and pumps are fully restored,” Aaron Miller, New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness director, said.

Miller said it is too soon to talk about possible evacuations, but he is urging everyone to have a plan.

Neighbors are taking Harvey very seriously, while demanding quick action to upgrade and repair the city's drainage system.

“I think that will make our city feel much better and we need effective government to protect us and what ever you do, please make it reliable,” Alex Kuo, Lakeview resident, said.

“Absolutely, I keep eyeballs on everything because I'm concerned about my fellow residents. I mean are we going to have to worry about what, floating around on rafts and boats?” Jerry Kaczmarek, another Lakeview resident, said.

City leaders say this is not the time to panic, but to stay aware and act quickly if asked to do so.

“Right now there is no reason to panic. We're encouraging the public to do all they can to prepare as we do in every other weather event,” Miller said.