Officials say rising water before drainage is a "normal occurrence"

City flooding update: Sunday morning

NEW ORLEANS – Even after heavy rains stopped pouring down Saturday, many residents in areas of the city experienced rising water.

Residents in Lakeview said hours after the rainfall stopped, water was rising inch-by-inch.

However, city officials said during a press conference Sunday that rising water during drainage is a “normal occurrence.”

“When you get that much rainfall it takes time for them to catch up,” said Ryan Berni, Deputy Mayor of External Affairs about the city's drainage system. “Particularly lower lying areas, in the lowest parts of the city, water goes to those areas as the system takes time to catch up."

Berni said in his neighborhood, the water rose before it went down.

“That’s a normal occurrence when we have this much rain in this period of time,” said Berni. ”But, we’re going back to look to make sure that there weren’t any minor issues that caused this issue, but at this point we don’t believe there were.”

Berni also said the canal drainage system was mean to prevent flooding due to storm surge, and not flash flooding.

“Particularly the people that live by the outfall canals, 17th, Orleans and London Avenue, there were questions about why those were not on, those are not intended to work in this type of event,” said Berni. “Our 24 drainage pumping stations have the capacity to move as much rainfall as you possibly can in a short period of time. Those (outfall pumping stations) are made to prevent what happened during Hurricane Katrina, when you have surge that’s preventing water from pumping out of the canals. In this instance, the canals were pushing water into the lake and operating as they were designed.”

Berni also explained that while the pumps tried to catch up to the rainfall, there were areas that didn’t see water recede at a half-inch per hour.

“Anytime we’re going to have multiple inches (of rain) in a short period of time, we’re going to have street flooding,” he said. “This part of living here, living with that threat. These no- notice events, particularly with the severity that we had yesterday, are going to continue to have water sit on the streets while the pumps catch up. The system works for an inch to first hour, and a half inch thereafter. That doesn’t mean the water in the street is going to go down an inch or a half inch. That’s how much rainfall the system is able to handle system-wide.” 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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