Mardi Gras World reopens as surveillance video shows moments after barge crash

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Mardi Gras World reopened for tours Friday and released new surveillance video of barges hitting the riverfront warehouse.

The surveillance video shows people at an event hosted by Mardi Gras World move quickly away from the water as the Coast Guard says a tugboat pushed six barges into the facility.

"It was kind of exciting and scary at the same time. I didn't know how far in the barges - I could see it was two barges side by side," Mark Perelli said.

Mardi Gras World President and CEO Barry Kern said witnesses at the event noticed operators of the tugboat did not sound a horn until seconds before the crash.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Perelli was working on a prop inside the warehouse when the barges hit.

"I was laying down on the ground on the underside of her arm, so I felt the full force of the thud and I didn't hear any warning horns, which I would expect if a ship is coming towards the dock," Perelli said.

Perelli said he initially thought a train derailed.

"Had I not had the window open, I would not have seen the barges coming in my direction," Perelli said.

Kern said the barges wiped out their flower and props department, as well as knocked out the columns that support the floor. The roof also caved in.

"We've taken about a 7,000 square foot section of our building, and we've literally created walls within it, and we're going to be building some walls over the course of the next week," Kern said.

He adds they will have to remove the damaged part of the building and rebuild, which will be an extensive job.

However, prop designers are already back at work.

"Our guys at the prop shop have done an incredible job of actually rerouting our prop shop, we were able to host 4,000 people here on Wednesday night," Kern said.

Doors reopened for tours Friday for the first time since the incident.

"We have a lot of people, thousands and thousands of people that come here, and obviously we wanted to get back and open up as soon as possible," Kern said.

He said engineers estimate damage to the building will cost millions.

Kern adds they paid for fire watch until their sprinkler system is repaired.

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