NEW ORLEANS - Some city leaders are calling the state of the city's drainage and flood protection, an "emergency situation."
City Council President Jason Williams said that doesn't bode well, particularly in the middle of hurricane season.
"It's starting to rain right now," Williams said. "We don't know how long it's going to rain. Anytime that happens in any part of the city, everybody is going to get very, very nervous (that) we're about to go through the exact same thing we just went through."
We now know some pumping stations in some of the hardest hit areas during Saturday's flood were operating at only 52 percent capacity.
Across the city, 14 of 121 pumps were offline for routine maintenance.
To make matters worse, Pumping Station number 6, which serves Lakeview and Mid-City, had four of its 13 pumps out of service
City Councilman Jared Brossett is now calling for the Sewerage and Water Board and the city administration to make repairs as soon as possible.
"I'm not settling for the status quo," Brossett said. "The improvements need to be made 24/7. It's unacceptable to have in a city like New Orleans that infrastructure lacking, especially during hurricane season."
While city leaders discuss how to get the pumps back on line, Chef Greg Sonnier is cleaning up flood damage to his yet-to-be-opened restaurant "Gabrielle" on Orleans Avenue.
His building took on up to three feet of water on Saturday.
"I do think that we should seek some sort of federal help at this point and have the federal government come in, assess and evaluate the situation and see what needs to be done," Sonnier said.
Sonnier and his wife Mary closed their original "Gabrielle" restaurant on Esplanade Ave. after Hurricane Katrina.
He says they don't regret the decision to reopen, but at the same time, are not waiting on the city to help protect their investment.
"For the next flood, if there's a next flood, we'll have (cement) hardy board up so the sheet rock won't have to be replaced," Sonnier said. "We'll have a flooring down that will be waterproof."
Meanwhile, city council members will continue to push for needed repairs to the drainage system.
"I have zero comfort right now, myself as a citizen and even less being in city government," Williams said.
Williams plans to summon Sewerage and Water Board and city officials back to the council chambers for a progress report on the pump repairs within the next two weeks.
Chef Greg Sonnier admits flood damage set back the opening of his restaurant a couple of weeks.
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