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Unexpected Rainfalls Overwhelms The Pumping Stations In New Orleans; Massive Flooding In Affected Area

Several communities in New Orleans are struggling and bracing for the possibility of another heavy rainfall.  Areas have gotten as much as 10 inches of rain on Saturday August 5th and the residents are preparing for more rain.  Due to the massive rainfall, pumping stations were struggling to keep up.  All 24 pumping stations were working harder than expected to adequately process the rainfall which means more water damage to homes that are just barely over the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Read more as reported by The Times-Picayune:

Photo Credit: Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

With some New Orleans neighborhoods seeing 8 to 10 inches of rain falling in just a few hours Saturday (Aug. 5), the rainfall overwhelmed the ability of the Sewerage & Water Board’s 24 pump stations to keep up, though all were operating, city officials said early Sunday. And they warned that additional thunderstorms could again overwhelm the city’s pumping capacity on Sunday.

“Public safety is our top priority, so we are advising residents to continue to monitor weather conditions and stay alert today,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a news release summarizing Saturday’s storms and the Sunday recovery plans.

“These no-notice rain and flooding events can be very dangerous, but luckily, there was no loss of life,” Landrieu said. “Today, we begin the hard work of assisting those who flooded and getting our streets passable for regular traffic. With additional rain expected today and the rest of this week, I would encourage all of our residents to clean in front of their catch basins.”
According to the news release, the 8 to 10 inches of rain that fell in some neighborhoods equated with a rainfall event that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any year, a so-called 100-year event.

Other areas saw lesser amounts of rainfall, equaling a 10-percent chance or 10-year event.

“The rate of rainfall in many neighborhoods of the city was one of the highest recorded in recent history,” the news release said, resulting in widespread street flooding in Gentilly, Lakeview, Mid City, Treme and the Central Business District, though there were no reports of loss of life, and only minor injuries.

Photo Credit: Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Sewerage & Water Board officials have said city’s drainage pumping system is designed to handle an inch of rainfall during the first hour of an event and a half-inch each hour thereafter. Officials said all 24 pumping stations were on and working on Saturday. The temporary pumping stations at the ends of the 17th Street, London Avenue and Orleans Avenue canals only operate when the floodgates blocking water from Lake Pontchartrain are closed, and thus are not operated during a rainfall event. The three permanent pumping stations under construction at the ends of those canals are not yet complete, but will operate in the same way.

Officials said the city’s public safety agencies, including police, fire and emergency medical services, responded to more than 200 emergency calls related to flooding.

Sunday will see a potential repeat of heavy rainfall in brief periods across much of the New Orleans metropolitan area, warned forecasters with the Slidell office of the National Weather Service.

“Although very high rainfall amounts will not be widespread, any one isolated location could receive very high amounts from 3 to as much as 6 inches of rainfall,” forecasters said in a forecast discussion message. “This is normally not an issue if it is spread through a long period of time, but unfortunately, this amount of rainfall could again fall within a short duration for any particular area.”

The city has put a link on its website with information on what to do after flooding, including how to file flood insurance claims. Residents are urged to document damage by taking photos:

https://nola.gov/ready/updates/heavy-rains-and-flooding-in-new-orleans-stay-safe/. More information is available at ready.nola.gov .

New Orleans officials asked residents to report street flooding and life-threatening emergencies to 911, and to remain indoors during heavy rainfall “unless an emergency makes it absolutely necessary for them to get on the road.”

Officials also warned that motorists driving faster than 5 mph through streets with standing water would be ticketed. That warning follows several reports of flooding on Saturday being exacerbated by waves pushed into homes and businesses by vehicles driving through flooded streets.

Police said there were no road closures as of 9:30 a.m. Sunday, but said that could change, depending on additional rainfall.

“Residents are reminded to continue to use caution when driving through areas affected by yesterday’s flooding, as there are stranded vehicles, debris and potential for pooling water,” the city news release said.
Officials said residents with stranded vehicles in the middle of roadways or intersections are expected to move them immediately to the side of the road, preferably into a parking lane, and warned that the Department of Public Works and police “may have to ‘courtesy tow’ vehicles to the side of the roadway” in some cases, and in the case of vehicles abandoned on interstate or major roadway ramps, may have to be towed to the city’s impound lot. Residents won’t be charged to retrieve those vehicles, the news release said.

Photo Credit: Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Folks also will be allowed to park on neutral grounds throughout the city on Sunday, as long as they don’t block intersections or park on streetcar tracks. But all vehicles must be removed from those areas by midnight Sunday, to allow for a return to normal transit operations on Monday morning.
The city asked residents to call 311 for general information and to report non-life threatening emergencies, including sidewalk and road problems and debris, between 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday. The city’s sanitation collection schedule has not changed.

For properties eligible for city collection:

Tree limbs, branches and carpeting must be cut in four feet (or less) lengths and bundled. Tree limbs cannot be more than 12 inches in diameter.
Leaves should be bagged and the bags secured.
Garbage and recycling carts should be secured on the associated property, between collections, to avoid spillage during heavy winds, rains and flooding.

Source: The Times-Picayune

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