NEW ORLEANS — When a strong afternoon thunderstorm raced through Lakeview Thursday, pump station 12 was quiet.
It doesn't need to run every time rain falls, but it's been out of service since earlier this month, rendering it useless until repairs are done.
Now, as Tropical Storm Ida continues to try to organize, questions about just how prepared the Sewerage & Water Board is are coming to the forefront.
“You always want pumps — all of them — to be on,” said City Councilman Joe Giarrusso, who heads up the Public Works Committee. “The fact that one of them is not — and is a lone pumping station — is a concern.”
The Sewerage & Water Board says 96 of 99 pumps are available.
Those not working: Pump station 12 in Lakeview, one at pump station 6 on the 17th Street Canal and one at pump station 14 in New Orleans East.
It's not uncommon for a pump to be out at some stations. But pump station 12 is a single pump, which drains much of Lakeview.
It's been in the headlines several times in recent years — for all the wrong reasons.
In September 2017, it wasn't staffed and wasn't turned on for hours, leaving water sitting in the streets.
It was operating this past March after a heavy rainstorm — but it ran backwards, pumping lake water back on to city streets.
With pump station 12 in a state of disrepair right now, Giarrusso and state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty asked the Sewerage & Water board for a temporary pump there.
Late Thursday afternoon, Giarrusso said the S&WB told him that was not feasible.
For its part, the Sewerage & Water Board says its drainage system can still keep the streets clear.
“They have an email out they've sent to the media and to our office and obviously if they are telling that to the public, we expect them to stand behind it,” Giarrusso said.
As for the power to run the pumps, it's still fragile.
There are two turbines available to produce power, with backup generators available, but there are concerns about lack of redundancy if one of those should go down as well.