Mayor tapping FEMA for help during bad weather situations

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Mayor LaToya Cantrell held a news conference Tuesday on steps her administration is taking for this weekend's weather threat and beyond.

Cantrell said Friday's rapid rainfall in a short period of time provided valuable lessons that are being addressed.

The mayor called Friday's rain prompted flooding a tough event which she said gave her administration a real time look at what the drainage vulnerabilities are.

She said her administration will do everything possible to keep water out of homes, businesses and vehicles. The administration is trying to expedite projects to help drainage and water management.

While 115 of the 120 pumps were operating, streets still flooded and water got into some structures.

Cantrell said if there is bad weather this weekend, there will be better placement of barricades around low lying area and other proactive steps to prevent people from driving into harm's way.

"Working with FEMA, sitting down with FEMA on Friday, saying to FEMA 'can you please get us several of your employees to work within the walls of City Hall' so that we can move these projects through at an expedited fashion. They have been on hold for far too long and we cannot tolerate that moving forward," the mayor said.

Cantrell said she has already had discussions with the state and FEMA about this weekend's bad weather possibility.

But she noted that the city would be on its own for the first 72 hours in terms of FEMA help.

Marcie Edwards, the Interim Director of the Sewerage and Water Board, said everything was working as it should on Friday, but there was always room for improvement.

Friday's rainstorms were the first weather event the new mayor had to deal with. Less than two weeks since her inauguration,and with two weeks to go until the official start of hurricane season.

Tuesday is the Sewerage and Water Board's interim executive director's last day on the job.

She said Friday that the system kept up, but that the city needs to invest more if it wants more out of the system.

"I've looked at everywhere there was street flooding and I think the system generally kept up," Edwards said. "Does it need to be extended? Does it need to have additional investment? Absolutely.

Edwards said all of the pumps need to be renovated and expanded, especially if weather events deliver so much rain in short periods of time.

Monday night two candidates were chosen to fill the executive director's job at the Sewerage and Water Board temporarily.

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