NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell finally responded to WWL-TV's question today about the two Sewerage and Water Board employees we now know were taking a nap in November leading to a boil water advisory for the entire Eastbank of New Orleans.
"Okay, that happened during, this has been months ago, in 2018. Is that it?" Cantrell said.
It may have been months ago, but the Sewerage and Water Board Director Ghassan Korban just informed the public this afternoon.
"Okay, we found out this was public information that the Sewerage and Water Board disclosed in a committee meeting to the New Orleans City Council in 2018. Since that particular time, the two individuals that were in fact sleeping on the job have resigned. There's a new day in the Sewerage and Water Board, and particularly in the City of New Orleans," Mayor Cantrell said.
Until now, the Sewerage and Water Board did not dive into details on why the two employees did not respond fast enough.
The explanation initially released went like this: The drop in water pressure was sparked when a vehicle hit a nearby utility pole, knocking out power to the plant.
According to Korban, the employees crucial to restoring water pressure were sound asleep, leading to the advisory that lasted 28 hours.
"Ain't that embarrassing," District B Councilmember Jay Banks said.
Banks told Eyewitness News that there were rumors, but the official announcement came out today. He now sits on the Sewerage and Water Board and feels things need to change if the department wants to win the public's trust.
"If you got to tell somebody bad news, they could pretty much accept that. But if you lie to them and deceive them, it makes the bad news even worse," Banks said.
"I think since taking office, and the Sewerage and Water Board, I have presided over every single S&WB meeting more than any previous administration has done or seen. So as it relates to my ability to not only be held accountable, but transparent to the citizens of New Orleans, I demonstrate that every single day," Cantrell said.