NEW ORLEANS — Paul Meyer has been showing up to work at Meyer the Hatter, his family’s St. Charles Avenue hat shop, for decades.
But it wasn’t until recently the business began to flood.
“A lot of times recently: 2017, Mother’s Day this year, July 10 and then it was starting to come up pretty close on Monday,” he said, recalling the near-miss that could’ve led to another major clean-up after a heavy band of storms flooded many parts of the city that do not often flood.
After recent floods, the Sewerage & Water Board hired contractors who found more than 300 tons of debris clogging the Lafitte Canal in Mid-City. Among the debris: A car.
That’s led to questions about if clogged canals are to blame for the recent floods. And if so, that deferred maintenance could be hitting homeowners in their pocketbooks.
The National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System helps to nudge local governments to do things like keep drainage canals clear.
In return, policyholders get lower rates the more points a local government earns while taking part in the voluntary program.
New Orleans is rated an 8, which means a 10% discount. Next door in Jefferson Parish, residents get a 25% cut since the parish is rated a 5.
Neither the S&WB nor the Cantrell administration made anyone available for an interview on Thursday.
Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni said the parish has 18 vacuum trucks roaming the streets, a good emergency plan and homes are up to code -- in addition to work to clear drain lines and canals.
“All of that collectively is put into a packet, sent to the rating agency and that's how we've gotten to be a Class 5-rated community,” he said.
Jefferson Parish’s higher rating is an anomaly. While it’s the highest in the metro New Orleans area, six other municipalities rate an 8, in addition to New Orleans.
Lafourche Parish is the lowest, with a rating of 10 -- and no flood insurance discounts.
Back in New Orleans, Meyer is glad there is finally work being done to clear out some canals and check for blockages in others.
“It seems like they’re getting on it now. Forgotten about in the past,” he said. “That’s the problem, you know? Nobody’s done it in 15 years or so.”