NEW ORLEANS — The S&WB is setting its sights underground after another flash flood caused by heavy rain sent water into homes, businesses and cars Monday afternoon.
The fact that flash flooding in New Orleans has become so common makes Executive Director of the Sewerage & Water Board Ghassan Korban “frustrated and angry quite frankly.”
“Yesterday, it became more of an evident situation that we have something going on underground that we need to put our finger on and fix,” Korban said on WWL Radio Tuesday morning.
He said Monday’s flash flood was a sign that the large drainage canals aren’t flowing like they should.
“We’re looking for the problems, we’re finding solutions and were taking care of it,” Korban said.
Heavy storms made several streets impassable Monday, making school pickup and afternoon rush hour a major problem and pushing water inside of some businesses in the Central Business District of New Orleans Monday.
WWL-TV Meteorologist Alexandra Cranford said that between 3-and-5 inches of rain fell in about a two-hour period.
"The results of Monday's rain event were extreme and our team is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to get to the bottom of it,” S&WB Spokesman Richard Rainey said Monday night. “That will take time and research, but we agree that the flood phenomena we've witnessed in recent months deserve a thorough investigation, and, if necessary, an action plan to address it."
The next step in that research may be an inspection of the large canals under Julia Street in the CBD. Korban said that the S&WB will look in the Julia Street canal just like the did the Lafitte Canal, where they found a car that had been down there for an estimated 12 years.
“Based on what we saw yesterday, definitely the issue is widespread. It’s not local. You can’t pinpoint it to a basin or small pipe,” Korban said on WWL Radio.
Korban also advocated for more green infrastructure, calling on the city to take a more holistic approach to the drainage problem.
“We need to find very strategically places, areas that can take on the water when the system can no longer take on the water and store it for a day,” he said.
There are also concerns of potential unintended consequences from the city about a newly completed drainage project.
The S&WB is studying the effects of the massive culverts built in recent years under several Uptown avenues as part of the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, known as SELA. A report on the impact SELA has had on drainage in the area could be complete as early as next month, Korban said.