Emergency in New Orleans Over Failing Pumps

Mayor's office says fire-damaged turbine is responsible
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 11, 2017 7:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – Schools closed for the week, and the mayor of New Orleans urged residents to park their cars on high ground. It's a familiar routine for the city during hurricane season, but this time the threat isn't churning in the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana's governor declared a state of emergency in New Orleans Thursday as the city's malfunctioning water-pumping system and the threat of more rain left some neighborhoods at greater risk of flooding, reports the AP. The city hadn't finished cleaning up from the last round of flooding before it faced the possibility of another. Mounds of debris from last weekend's flash flood—9.4 inches of rain fell in 3 hours—remained piled up on sidewalks and street medians, some taller than passing cars.

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New Orleans' municipal pumping system is supposed to move water out of the low-lying city. But the mayor's office said Thursday the city has lost service from one of its turbines, which powers most of the pumping stations that serve the East Bank of New Orleans, due to an internal fire within the turbine itself. That means the system's capacity to drain storm water from the streets has been diminished. Earlier this week, city officials had repeatedly said all 24 pumping stations were working at full capacity. It later emerged that pumping stations in two of the hardest-hit areas went down to half to two-thirds capacity Saturday. The head of the Sewerage & Water Board has said he will retire at the end of hurricane season in November. Public Works Director Mark Jernigan submitted his resignation Tuesday. (Read more New Orleans stories.)

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