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Update on Tropical Storm Harvey in New Orleans: Rainfall concern, safety, flood tracking

New Orleans scrambles to secure its pumping and drainage systems

An overhead look at Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017
Photo via NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Nearly three weeks after a giant storm dropped 10 inches of rain in some New Orleans neighborhoods, this weakening threat could have dropped that same amount or more in New Orleans.

What we know about the storm

As of Thursday, August 31, Tropical Storm Harvey has brought over 30 inches of rain to Houston and surrounding cities, and forecasters predict that it will bring as much as 25 additional inches by the end of the week.

As Harvey continues to move North, the system downgraded to a tropical depression Wednesday afternoon. New Orleans is not in the projected path of the weakening depression.

In New Orleans, forecasters expect the tropical storm’s rain bands to bring four to 10 inches of rain though Sunday, September 3. The National Weather Service predicts local showers in New Orleans throughout the week. The Service put New Orleans under Flash Flood Watch until Thursday.

“As we remember the tough times of Hurricane Katrina, we continue to pray for those affected by the hurricane in Texas and Southwest Louisiana,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a recent press conference. “Many New Orleanians are mobilizing to ensure we return the generous support given to us in our time of need. New Orleans is also excited to join our hospitality leaders in hosting a great Labor Day Weekend full of events for residents and visitors."

Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall for the third time, bringing massive floods to Southwest Louisiana. Louisiana State Police have blocked I-10 Westbound near the Texas and Louisiana state lines on Wednesday, August 30.

Pump 6C at station No. 6, which services Lakeview, is back on line after temporarily failing during heavy rain on August 28.

On Monday, President Donald J. Trump declared a State of Emergency Declaration for Louisiana and will visit the state later this weekend.

In a City of New Orleans press conference, Lead Meteorologist Ken Graham says the New Orleans Weather Service is confident in its predictions for the next few days.

“We believe our drainage system can handle our forecast unless, of course, we get stuck in a rain band,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a press briefing. “Right now there is no reason to panic.”

Evacuation?

Confident in weather predictions, Mayor Landrieu says that he will not initiate an evacuation. While it’s difficult to predict rainfall, he says that the pump system will be able to handle 10 inches of rain over a several-day period.

If the storm does not dissipate and returns to the Gulf, Landrieu says that he will reconsider evacuation and other plans New Orleans.

Parking during heavy rain

As of Sunday, August 27, Mayor Landrieu announced that residents can park on neutral grounds during heavy rain that do not block intersections or streetcar tracks.

Pump operation

Currently, 106 out of 120 pumps are in operation in New Orleans, according to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. The Mayor’s Office reports that a crew is currently working to repair the remaining 14 pumps before additional heavy rain hits New Orleans.

The Lakeview pump that failed yesterday is back online as of Tuesday, August 29.

The sewerage and Water Board is working to repair Turbines No. 3 and No. 4 to increase the operating power of the pumps. As of now, Turbines No. 1 and No. 6 are operating the city’s 106 working pumps.

Landrieu says that the city remains “in a state of diminished drainage capacity,” and that “we will see some localize flooding with rain.”

Just after the August 5 Storm, New Orleans lost one power turbine, leaving one out of five in operation temporarily to power its pumping system. While that turbine has been restored, Landrieu’s administration has secured an additional 26 backup generators in the case New Orleans suffers another power turbine failure during the hurricane season.

Safety

Building and school closures

All public buildings and Orleans Parish School Board reopened on Wednesday, August 30.

Intersections to avoid during heavy rain

The City of New Orleans preemptively placed traffic barricades in flood-prone areas of the City. Be cautious when commuting through the following areas in New Orleans:

  • Paris Avenue and Gentilly Boulevard
  • St. Bernard Avenue at I-610
  • Franklin Avenue at I-610
  • Gentilly Boulevard and Peoples Avenue
  • Press Drive and Leon C. Simon Drive
  • Broad Street and A.P. Tureaud Street
  • City Park Pumping Station
  • Canal Boulevard and Navarre Street
  • Tulane Avenue and S. Carrollton Avenue
  • Metairie Road at I-10

Where to pick up free sandbags

The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness will provide sandbags for residents at the intersections of Elysian Fields Avenue and I-610, and South Broad Avenue and Poydras Street, 24 hours a day. No bags will be offered at the previous Perido and South Lopez intersection site.

The New Orleans Fire Department will give away sandbags at five of its stations:

  • Station 13: 987 Robert E. Lee Blvd.
  • Station 16: 2000 Martin Luther King Blvd.
  • Station 17: 4115 Woodland Ave.
  • Station 27: 2118 Elysian Fields Ave.
  • Station 36: 5403 Read Road

Track flooded streets using this app

Earlier this Month, New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness released a Streetwise web application that displays accidents and flooded streets in real time. To use the app during the heavy rain or day-to-day use, visit this website.

Check your catch basins

The City encourages residents to clear clogged catch basins of superficial debris and obstructions. Over the past three weekss, the Department of Public Works has cleared over 850 catch basins.

For tips on how to make your street’s catch basins more efficient, check out this message by the Department of Public Works. If a catch basins is not functioning properly, report it by calling 311.

Sign up for emergency alerts

To stay in the loop with emergency notifications during Hurricane Harvey, sign up at NOLA Ready’s official website.