NEW ORLEANS – City of New Orleans officials are keeping a wary eye on major Hurricane Harvey as the track of the storm that is expected to soak southeast Texas and parts of southwest Louisiana is fairly uncertain after the next 72 hours.
While the storm is not expected to make its way toward the New Orleans area, there could be plenty of rain from outer bands that could bring 5-10 inches of rain or more over the next week.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu says if that projection remains true, New Orleans would likely be okay, but much of Harvey has been and is expected to be unpredictable. The big danger is if things change.
“If we get 5-10 inches over (that amount of time), we can handle that,” he said at a Friday afternoon press briefing. “If we get 5-to-10 inches times two in two hours, we can’t.”
The city is especially vulnerable because its pumping and drainage system is still damaged. As of Friday, 106 of the 120 pumps at various stations around the city were in operation. The city also said that by the weekend there would be enough personnel to man all of the pump stations around the clock.
In addition, the city had previously announced that of the 65,000 catch basins in the city, 15,000 of them had issues that needed to be addressed and about 3,500 of them had major issues.
The city has expedited the cleaning of the basins with extended hours, but as of Friday only about 900 of the catch basins had received attention since Aug. 5.
While the city doesn’t recommend opening catch basins and going inside, it is asking citizens to remove leaves, grass and trash from the outside that could block the drains.
The city doesn’t anticipate calling for evacuations, but that could change if Harvey takes an unexpected course towards Louisiana.
If needed, the city will open up to four shelters – on both the east and west banks, along with a shelter for people having special medical needs.
40 boats and 20 high-water vehicles have been stationed at various points around the city.