Hurricane Harvey Rainfall Poses Danger to Ill-Prepared New Orleans

As a major hurricane churns in the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans is facing the biggest threat to public safety since Katrina ravaged the city 12 years ago. With a large number of pumps and turbines out of service, it is not clear if the city is ready for Hurricane Harvey, and the city is studying emergency evacuation plans.

Three of the five power turbines that power the 120 pumps that are supposed to keep the low-lying city from being swamped by rainwater are not working. And 15 of those pumps were offline because of repairs.

Earlier this month, substantial rainfall caused the Lakeview and Mid-City neighborhoods to flood, soaking some areas in knee-deep water because the city’s pump and drainage systems were not at full capacity. Harvey is expected to pour another five to 10 inches of rain on the city.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu promised residents that he and other city officials have been working hard since the Aug. 5 storm to make repairs to increase power and pump capacity.

Nonetheless, the mayor confirmed that they were at “diminished capacity.”

“The Sewerage and Water Board and contractors are now working 24/7 to repair all power and all pumps,” Landrieu said at a Thursday news conference. “Since early August, we’ve brought one turbine back online, we’ve repaired three major pumps and secured and mobilized 26 backup generators.”

Image: New Orleans flooding

Philana Crite, in town from Cleveland for a family reunion, steps off the curb into flood waters in New Orleans on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017.