NEW ORLEANS – Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other city officials gave an update on Tropical Storm Harvey as it slams Houston and the surrounding areas on Sunday with 15 inches and more of water.
Landrieu said that he offered thoughts, prayers and assistance to Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston.
“I don’t need to tell the people of New Orleans, given the fact that Tuesday is the anniversary of Katrina how completely devastating this is,” Landrieu said.
Landrieu said that now is the time that Houston residents can lean on New Orleans as they supported residents during Hurricane Katrina. The mayor stated that he has been in contact with state and federal departments to make sure the city is “prepared and ready for whatever might come our way.”
Additionally, crews and contractors of the Sewerage and Water Board have been working 24/7 to strengthen the drainage capacity and getting pumps at full capacity.
Landrieu said the city should expect some rain and thunderstorms from Harvey and the storm could produce slight chances for tornadoes. He stated that officials will keep a close eye on the “rain bands” in case they intensify.
City and emergency agencies remain in a “ready mode” until the storm passes New Orleans, the mayor said.
The mayor urged residents to stay vigilant, to have an emergency plan and to make preparations to protect personal property.
“There’s nothing that beats preparation from citizens,” Landrieu said.
The mayor said that more than 35,000 sandbags have been distributed to residents and the bags have a three-month life span which should last through all of hurricane season. The Department of Public Works has cleaned more than 1,070 catch basins and more than 73,000 linear feet of drain lines as of Sunday.
The New Orleans Police Department says that 146 barricades have been already been staged at underpasses that are prone to flooding in the city. NOPD Chief Harrison said the department remains at “operational readiness” and urged not to leave their cars in the middle of road, if the city does experience heavy rain, as it may prevent emergency vehicles from passing. Additionally, Harrison said that residents should not attempt to go down flooded streets and risk pushing water into homes.
Paul Rainwater of the interim emergency management S&WB team stated that the agency plans to have 142 personnel at the city’s pumping stations and will have “spotters” to keep an eye on the automated pumping stations. Rainwater also explained that the agency is ensuring that all crews have the basic equipment they need to man the stations.
Landrieu explained that the city has about 92 percent of the city’s pumps operable with 106 of the 120 pumps working. He reassured that over the next 72 hours that the pumps can handle about 4 to 8 inches of rain, however he hopes to have another turbine back online soon.
The mayor stated that all Orleans Parish schools will be open on Monday and will be operating on normal schedules.
Landrieu stated that he would update residents in the coming days on how they can help the city of Houston and return the support Houston gave to New Orleans years ago.
“In a community that’s in that state, it’s going to need a lot of help and we will be here for them the way that they were here for us during Hurricane Katrina,” Landrieu said.