Tensions high as council, citizens grill officials over flooding

City officials faced outrage from all sides Tuesday as Council members and citizens questioned them about what went wrong during last weekend's flood.

NEW ORLEANS -- A heated meeting took place in the City Council Chambers as Councilmembers and citizens focused their frustrations on the Sewerage and Water Board, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Public Works.

All three organizations were called to testify in a special meeting, but instead of answers, more conflicting information came out.

Sewerage and Water Board officials Cedric Grant and Joe Becker gave their takes on what happened Saturday as a crowd heckled them.

“All of the pump stations were working at the maximum capacity,” Becker, the S&WB’s General Superintendent, said as a chorus of boos broke out from the crowd.

MORE: Landrieu calls for more terminations as leads resign, retire after flood

Council members showed their frustration as well, continuously asking for clarification.

"When did you know (the pumps) were in need of repair and how long have they been in need of repair?" Councilman Jason Williams asked repeatedly.


The council and crowd learned that 14 out of the 121 pumps were inactive because of routine maintenance. For pumping station No. 6, covering Lakeview and Mid-City, four out of the 13 pumps were out of service.

The main question from Councilmember and the public was the same: Who was responsible for the confusion?

"Who made the statement that the pumps were all working at the time of the event?” Councilman James Gray asked.

Grant, the S&WB’s Executive Director, took the blame. At the same meeting, Grant announced his retirement, effective after this hurricane season.

As the meeting wore on, city leaders demanded an apology.

"We knew when something was happening over the weekend, something was not right,” Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell said. “We have been told lies – and that is the truth!”

Susannah Burley attended the special meeting to get answers after her home and cars were significantly damaged in the flood.

“We were absolutely mislead. And you know, people could've died,” Burley said. “There was so much destructive to our homes, cars and businesses. And just unforgivable."

© 2017 WWL-TV


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