NEW ORLEANS - Audubon Street is a heavily-travelled Uptown street. So when a pipe beneath the surface began leaking, finally all that weight from vehicles broke through the asphalt, creating a crater that residents knew would only get worse.
"This was really bad, and it started off as a little trickle in the street," said neighbor Judy Paine.
Neighbors say the leak appeared at least three months ago. But they called the Action Line after seeking help from the Sewerage and Water Board, and being amazed at the response.
"They told me that they always have sixty days to repair something, and they had another twenty days, so they'd be out in the next twenty days," said Paine. "I thought they were nuts."
"It was like a small bayou, is what it was, running down the side of the street," said neighbor Murray Calhoun. "The side of the street had collapsed, we had holes in the street, and I just thought it was a dangerous eyesore that needed to be fixed."
And it was, within two days of my email to the Sewerage and Water Board, the pipe was repaired, and the flood of water subsided. "Oh my goodness, it's a huge difference," smiled Paine. "The hole was getting bigger and bigger and deeper and deeper, and the whole street could have caved in."
In an email earlier this month, Sewerage and Water Board General Superintendent Joe Becker blamed Katrina, saying since the storm the agency's revenues have dropped, but expenses have risen. He said that has resulted in a backlog of 700 water leaks, 100 sewer repairs, and 1,100 concrete repair jobs. So I asked the people who live here, is this a valid excuse?
"Absolutely not, that was six years ago for starters, and it's inexcusable to have this," said Paine.
"I don't run the Sewerage & Water Board," said Calhoun. "I don't know how they prioritize their projects, I don't know how they rank them in severity. But in anybody's list or ranking of what needs to be fixed, this year needed to be fixed."
And now it is, and the neighbors are grateful.