Louisiana Governor Declares State of Emergency Over New Orleans Flooding Issues

Ada Carr
Published: August 10, 2017

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for New Orleans on Thursday in case the city has to deal with more flooding the next few days while it repairs its malfunctioning water-pumping system.

"If we get the heavier expected rainfall, time will be of the essence," Edwards said in a statement obtained by the Times-Picayune. "We are working well together. Obviously this is a serious situation, but it is not something to be panicked about."

Heavy rainfall over the weekend overwhelmed New Orleans’ pump stations, triggering widespread flooding that became became hip-deep in some places. The failure of the pumps has caused some officials to voice their dissatisfaction with the city’s response to the flooding. 

Rain remains in the forecast for the region through the weekend. The city will continue to see a stagnant weather pattern that features impulses of energy in the air that tap into deep, tropical moisture, according to weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. This weather pattern will fuel scattered areas of heavy rainfall in southeast Louisiana that could contain rates of 1-3 inches per hour at times, resulting in additional flooding.

Also Thursday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the city lost service to one of its turbines, which powers most of the pumping stations servicing the city’s East Bank. He has been urged residents to move their vehicles to higher ground.

(MORE: Florida Sinkhole May Force Condemnation of More Homes)

"We are at risk if we have a massive rain event that comes up at the last minute and creates the kind of flooding we had," Landrieu said during a news conference. "The power we have available to us now will not be enough to pump the city out in the time needed."

Officials announced that 14 2-megawatt generators will be provided and will stay in the city for the rest of hurricane season, according to the Times-Picayune.

"We are currently running on our last backup power source," Landrieu said. "If all the power from Entergy continues, and we expect that it will, we will be able to handle any typical rainfall." 

A random inspection of the city’s catch basins in flooded areas revealed that some of the storm drains had become severely blocked by debris and mud, WWLTV.com reports. Officials found that drainage may have been reduced by up to 50 percent. 

“It’s really bad, because there’s nowhere for the water to even go,” resident Annette Williams told WWLTV. 

All public schools in New Orleans are closed through Friday.

The state of emergency is retroactive and runs from Aug. 5, when the first round of flooding began, to Sept. 3. It can be terminated early if the governor wants. 

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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