Heavy flooding in New Orleans drove Louisiana Gov. Gov. John Bel Edwards to declare a preemptive state of emergency Friday (Aug. 11) as more rain is expected to drench the area. The declaration, which “allows for more flexible strategy and purchasing of assets needed in emergencies” (including providing the city with 14 backup generators, and possible assistance from the National Guard), will last through early September.
During a press conference Thursday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu acknowledged that the situation was “serious” but urged residents not to panic.
“If we get the heavier expected rainfall, time will be of the essence,” he said according to NOLA.com. “We are working well together. Obviously this is a serious situation, but it is not something to be panicked about.”
The Orleans Parish School Board and the Archdiocese of New Orleans also closed schools for the day.
— Michael DeMocker (@MichaelDeMocker) August 5, 2017
Flooding at the edge of the French Quarter pic.twitter.com/nLQqomrV2G
— Duke Carter II (@dcarterII) March 30, 2017
The city’s proactive approach, is a major shift from last weekend when the mayor’s office didn’t release information on the flooding until three hours after the torrential rains began. The lack of communication left drivers stranded without details on which areas to avoid, and unveiled more problems in how New Orleans handles weather-related disasters, more than a decade after Hurricane Katrina.
The New Orleans Sewage & Water Board has since admitted to being ill-prepared for the recent flood, which overwhelmed the city’s pumps and drainage system resulting in several broken pipes. A fire also left the city with only one of five generators needed to power the pumps to remove the water. But according to a NOLA.com report, the board was well aware of the issues within its draining system, long before this mont’s flood.
And with more rain in the forecast, New Orleans is taking public measures to avoid another disastrous outcome. The mayor’s office unveiled Street Wise, a website that provides live updates on traffic and street flooding. In addition, the city has ordered 26 generators, six of which already arrived. A dozen more generators are expected to arrive on Saturday and will remain “throughout Hurricane Season.”
Residents in the affected areas are encouraged to “move their vehicles to higher ground, take necessary actions to protect personal property, and stay off of roadways during rainstorms unless an emergency makes it absolutely necessary to do so.”