Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
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NEWORLEANS-- Heavy rainstorms can overwhelm drainage systems, flooding streets and sometimes homes. But Greater New Orleans Inc., showed a packed auditorium the Urban Water Plan to better manage drainage.

'We have the opportunity here in Louisiana, in the greater New Orleans region to pivot from being victims of disaster to being masters of disaster,' said Michael Hecht ofGNO Inc.

The plan would create places to temporarily hold rainwater to reduce flooding until drainage systems catch up, from turning vacant lots into parks in St. Bernard, to new ponds, water features and redesigning drainage canals in Orleans and Jefferson.

'This will help us in maintaining water levels, and ensuring that our homes aren't flooded,' said St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta.

'We'll beautify those canals, they'll be recreation areas as well as expanded flood control,' explained Jefferson Parish President John Young.

The Sisters of St. Joseph were delighted with plans to turn their Gentilly property into a garden that would also be a temporary rainwater storage pond.

'Holding the water, cleansing the water, cherishing the water, in order to protect the homes of our neighbors,' said Sister Pat Bergen, CSJ.

'I think people are going to see a greener city, a more pleasant city, and one that retains the water better,' added Cedric Grant, Deputy New OrleansMayor.

The planners say it would only take about 18 months to complete all the projects. But first they've got to find $6 billion dollars to pay for it. They know that won't be easy, they'll need federal state and local funds.

But they say fewer floods could be worth $22 billion over fifty years.

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