Mayor says there's a plan to repair 15,000 catch basins

Catch basin challenges

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - People who live in the 4000 block of D'Hemecourt say an afternoon shower makes them nervous.

"Yeah, it's frustrating. Now, I wonder every time it rains whether or not it's going to flood my living room, you know?" says Francis Stearns.

Stearns has lived in his apartment for the past seven years.

"Well, I've never seen anybody work on it. All I know is, if they were supposed to, they never did," says Stearns, talking about the catch basin outside his home.

"We pay taxes, and the city should do this. We have called the city several times to come clean the drains out, and they always tell us, 'We'll have someone on it.' That's been three years, and they have not come out to do anything," says Donna Banks.

Donna Banks has pictures of the Aug. 5 flood that shows her neighborhood under water. She says her neighbor, who suffers from back problems, had to take matters in his own hands.

"He actually had to get out and take a shovel to clean the system out to get the water to go down," says Banks.

"On the issue of catch basins and drain lines, our Public Works team has come up with a plan to clean and repair approximately 15,000 catch basins and drain lines. For anyone who doesn't know, there are 60,000 catch basins in New Orleans," says Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Landrieu says cleaning and repairing catch basins is a priority when it comes to solving the city's drainage problem.

Of the 15,000 catch basins that need repairs, 3,300 of them were reported by citizens to the city's 311 phone system. The mayor says the city is working to increase its capacity to clean and flush catch basins and drain lines.

"This will focus on areas where 311 already has an identified list as well as areas most prone to flooding. We will add to capacity with temporary labor from our work force development program and leasing trucks and drivers from private contractors," says Landrieu.

Donna Banks says she's tired of flooding, and she had doubts about whether her drainage will ever be fixed.

"I don't know what they're doing, but we will believe it when we see it. In the meantime, we shouldn't have to live in fear," says Banks.

The mayor believes the catch basins project will cost about $22 million. He says some of the money is already dedicated, but the city will have to find the rest.

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