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Jeff Parish pumps overwhelmed by '50-year rain event' Friday

Several cars were stranded in the middle of South Service Road West near Severn as traffic backed up on the interstate heading into New Orleans.

METAIRIE, La. — Jefferson Parish officials say their drainage system was “overwhelmed” for a few hours by a 50-year rain event Friday.

Drainage Director Ben Lepine reported rain totals of 3.5 inches per hour or more at several spots in the eastern part of the parish’s East Bank, including:

  • 4.3 inches in one hour at the Bonnabel Pump Station at Beverly Gardens and the lake;
  • 4.3 inches in one hour at Canal Street and the 17th Street Canal;
  • 3.9 inches per hour for two hours at Focis and West Esplanade;
  • 3.8 inches in an hour at Severn and West Napoleon.

Several cars were stranded in the middle of South Service Road West near Severn as traffic backed up on the interstate heading into New Orleans.

Lepine said standing water remained, even after the rain stopped at 12:45 p.m., because the pumps were designed to handle a 10-year rain event and needed to catch up.

The drainage canals were 3 feet above the high level at the height of the storm Friday, Lepine said. By 1:00, the system had pumped those levels down by 3 feet, back to the high level.

The Jefferson Parish drainage system can typically handle more rain than the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board’s system because it can hold more water in the ground and in open canals before needing to pump it out. It can store the first 2 inches of rainfall before the pumps are needed to pump half an inch per hour at full capacity. The system uses pumps to flood Pontiff Playground and store the water there, and all those pumps were used Friday, Lepine said.

RELATED: S&WB: Heavy rain has outpaced pumping in New Orleans East

RELATED: Heavy rain floods New Orleans streets, up to 7 in fell in some areas

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