NEW ORLEANS -- A ground maintenance crew from the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, armed with weed whackers and rakes, took to the banks of the Palmetto Canal along Washington Avenue Friday morning.
"I think it's great, cutting the grass now," said Gerard Rouchon, a resident of the nearby Zion City neighborhood. "At least it shows somebody is taking the initiative and action to try and help the people out."
Rouchon is the president of the Zion City Preservation Association. He has been complaining for months about the tall weeds and grass growing on mounds of dirt deposited over time along the cement lined drainage canal.
He repeated what he told us after the Aug. 5 floods that left many of the streets in his neighborhood underwater.
"I've seen when the water flowed how the vegetation blocks the water from going constantly," Rouchon said. "It slows it down."
Rodney Logan lives on the other side of the canal in the Broadmoor neighborhood.
"I think I've seen them once before now and that's about it," Logan said.
When asked if he thinks the maintenance crew should come more often, Logan answered, "Yeah, but who am I to say?"
Neighbors said that cleaning up the canal is step one. They are now urging the Sewerage and Water Board to follow up with additional steps to help prevent flooding and improve drainage in their neighborhood.
"It's about time," Rouchon said. "But they need to clean the catch basins out, too, you know, because the water fills up the street."
"They ought to take the soil out to keep the vegetation from growing," Rouchon said. "That's what's causing the vegetation to grow like it is."
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Press Secretary Erin Burns said, "S&WB crews routinely clear concrete lined canals of debris and problematic vegetation. This work is often labor intensive, requiring grass and mud to be removed by hand. As part of the current emergency declaration, S&WB recently issued a request for proposals to procure additional canal clearing services for canals on the East Bank, which includes the Palmetto Canal. Those bids will be reviewed next week and a contract will be executed as soon as possible."
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