Mardi Gras World president says damage to building is worse than anticipated

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Engineers got a better look at the damages after a tugboat that had lost steering pushed barges into a wharf behind Mardi Gras World Monday night.

Investigators with the New Orleans Fire Department said the accident happened around 6:45 p.m.

"We've been able to look at it from the outside, from the river side as well as the inside, and it's substantial structural damage to the building and to the wharf itself, the pilings underneath, and the sub-floor," Mardi Gras World President and CEO Barry Kern said.

Kern said it wasn't only the 100 feet of wharf that sustained damage, but the building also had significant damage.

"We're right now going through an assessment of what we've lost, but there's quite a few props and flowers. It kind of hit where our flower department is," Kern said.

Engineers worked all morning to examine the aftermath, which Kern said takes a long time because the high river makes it difficult to see.

"It knocked the actual columns off of the pile copse, and when those columns got knocked off the pile copse, the whole roof, and thankfully, it didn't totally, but the whole thing just kind of sunk in," Kern said.

He said his first order of business with engineers is to structurally stabilize and hold up the roof so it doesn't collapse.

"I was so excited to come back and visit and see those objects," Kern said.

Some visitors just found out the building was closed when they arrived.

"We're from Chicago, so we took the ride right from the airport. This was our first stop coming to New Orleans. I was here for Mardi Gras just recently, and I brought her to come see a little piece of it, and we're only here for two days, so we're really sad," Kay Kron said.

Despite all that was lost, Kern said he's just glad everyone is okay.

"My first thing was is anybody hurt because I knew that we had several thousand people here for two different events last night, and the fact that no one was hurt, that was obviously the only thing that I was worried about. Props, and buildings, and things like that can be repaired," Kern said.

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