Sewerage and Water Board answers questions about Saturday's flooding

Sewerage and Water Board officials say the pumps were running Saturday, but weren't designed to move five inches of water in one hour.

NEW ORLEANS -- Dozens of residents and businesses are still cleaning up after Saturday's downpour and, in the aftermath, some are questioning whether the pumps were working. 

This Monday, inside Ricard's, a supplies store, a very frustrated Kim Krivjanick is still trying to get the store back open.

"The water was over my ankles from the front to the back, so as I was trying to save the stuff that was on the top it just started collapsing," Krivjanick said.

Just down Broad Street, Awa Guaya's hair braids and clothing store suffered nearly the same fate. She says she lost thousands in clothing brought over from Senegal. 

"From here the water, everything messed up," Guaya showed us the water got up to her knees at places in her store.

And in nearby neighborhoods, it was nearly impossible for cars to get out. 

That's why so many this Monday are asking, what happened with the pumps?  We asked that to Cedric Grant, Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans.

"There were almost 5 inches of rain on Saturday, and our pumping system was designed to take off 1 inch of rain the first hour and half an inch every hour after that," Grant said.

He explained all the pumps were on, but some lost power.

"There were power fluctuations at some of the underpass stations, but they were brief, and they happened during the event,” Entergy said in a written statement to Eyewitness News. "As a result of the storm on July 22, five feeders suffered momentary losses of power.  Four of the feeders were restored to service in less than 2 minutes.  The fifth feeder required additional work and was not restored to service until 4:33 p.m."

But aren't all pump stations supposed to have back-ups generators?

"We have back-up generators in all of our pumping stations in the underpass stations they're on the Entergy power, and right now we're doing upgrades to them to give them additional back-up generation," Grant said.

There's 10-to-12 pumping stations that still need those upgrades. By Grant's estimation it should take another year.  Unfortunately, for business operators like Krivjanick, that's much too long. 

"When I add up all these little things ...  I'm not sure how many thousands (of dollars the store lost)," she said.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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