NEW ORLEANS -- Thousands of catch basins across New Orleans are in need of immediate attention, but this week, the city terminated its $7 million catch basin cleaning contract with RAMJ Construction, which began on Sept. 6.
The problem contributed to widespread flooding in the city on Aug. 5.
"As you see, there's an opening, nothing's going down," Joe Franklin said as he pointed to a drain near the corner of S. Genois and Canal Streets.
Mid-City neighbors say they are tired of their streets flooding every time there's a heavy rain.
Franklin's car took on water during the last flood.
"Everything was flooded. When I say everything, my poor baby has a problem now," Franklin said about his car. "When I start the car, the trunk pop."
RAMJ, a firm out of Kenner was supposed to clear 15,000 catch basins in 120 days.
According to the city, it didn't bring the number of vacuum trucks it promised and wasn't able to keep pace with the 125 catch basin cleanings per day called for in the contract.
Thursday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu told the Sewerage and Water Board, RAMJ had also been flagged by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
"There were some complaints about their work because they weren't disposing of what they were getting out of the catch basins in an appropriate way, consistent with DEQ and EPA guidelines," Landrieu said.
RAMJ had only spent about a week on the job before DEQ shut them down last Sunday.
City Councilman James Gray said it appears the company was just never able to perform from day one.
"It's unfortunate and the most unfortunate thing is the delay involved in it," Gray said.
The city is now pushing the reset button on the 120 day timetable for 15,000 catch basins cleared.
The Baton Rouge firm, Compliance Envirosystems (CES) has now been hired to do the work and is expected to begin sometime next week.
"They need to do something in a hurry, before the next hurricane or the next big storm, stuff like this needs to be fixed," Franklin said.
CES will have to submit a waste disposal plan with DEQ, before it can start work in New Orleans.
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