Grant out at S&WB today; 'emergency team' named

NEW ORLEANS – Mayor Mitch Landrieu named an “interim emergency management” team to lead the Sewerage & Water Board in the wake of recent flooding that exposed a host of problems inside the embattled agency.

To pave the way for the new six-person team, Executive Director Cedric Grant is starting his retirement immediately, a move first reported by WWL-TV on Friday. Grant previously announced he would stay until the end of hurricane season on Nov. 30, but his early departure was foreshadowed by the fast-track efforts to put together the emergency team to replace him.

MORE: Grant to step down from S&WB months earlier than expected, sources say 

Grant bore significant criticism following incorrect statements about the city’s response after heavy rains on July 22 and Aug. 5 flooded homes, business and cars throughout parts of Mid-City, Gentilly, Lakeview and Treme. The storms exposed problems ranging from inoperable pumps, lack of manpower and insufficient power to handle the deluge.

Grant will hand administrative control to a new team of experts who will take over to “provide administrative, financial and technical capacity” to help get the utility through the next 100 days, the city announced in a press release.

The team is being led by Paul Rainwater, a familiar Louisiana figure who has served several governors, most recently serving as Bobby Jindal’s chief of staff. Rainwater is veteran crisis manager who served crucial roles in a string of Louisiana disasters starting with Hurricane Katrina. He made the short list to become director of FEMA under President Trump.    

Other members of the team are:

-- Terrence Ginn, a Baton Rouge-based deputy commissioner for finance & administration with the Louisiana Board of Regents.

-- Renee Lapeyrolerie, a public relations and communications expert who now works at the engineering firm, CDM Smith, in addition to serving as a board member of Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District.

-- Ehab Meselhe, an academic and engineer who now serves as Vice President for Science and Engineering at the Water Institute of the Gulf.

-- Owen Monconduit, a retired Brigadier General from the Louisiana National Guard, who will provide engineering, contracting and procurement support for the emergency repairs.

-- Robert “Bob” Turner, who serves as director of Engineering and Operations at the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. He is a civil engineer with more than 35 years of experience.

-- Robert “Bob” Turner, who serves as director of Engineering and Operations at the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. He is a civil engineer with more than 35 years of experience.

Landrieu announced the team while meeting in Baton Rouge with Gov. John Bel Edwards and new FEMA Administrator Brock Long about flooding issues. He first noted the service of Grant, a 40-year public employee who has worn many different hats in city and state government, including as a deputy mayor under Landrieu.

“(Grant) has played a pivotal role in our city’s post-Katrina recovery. His service has been invaluable throughout the years,” Landrieu stated.

“The new Interim Emergency Management and Support team will supplement the leadership already at Sewerage & Water Board as we fix the infrastructure and stabilize the organization,” Landrieu continued. “Our administration has worked aggressively to recruit a team that consists of the top professionals in their respective industries who understand the issues currently facing Sewerage & Water Board and have a proven track record for success. They will work closely with Sewerage & Water Board’s executive leadership team to add support and capacity during this transitional period.”

© 2018 WWL-TV


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