Cantrell says city working hard on flood prevention; seeks to expedite rain management projects

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Mayor Latoya Cantrell tried to reassure residents the city is doing everything possible to keep floodwaters out of their homes, businesses and vehicles in the event that severe tropical weather hits the area over the weekend.

Cantrell held a press conference flanked by her emergency preparedness chief and the superintendents of the New Orleans Police and Fire Departments.

Cantrell said Friday's flooding following rapid, heavy rainfall during a short period of time was assessed, and the pumps worked as expected, but the rainfall was too much for the system.

She suggested that for now, that is the best that can be expected.

"So with over 95 percent of the pumps functioning at capacity, and recently cleaned storm drains, people have really been asking is this best, is this the best that it gets? And since we are here to have a honest conversation, I want you to know that right now, just today, we're doing everything that we can to mitigate, but it is pretty much the best that we're doing and we were able to do on Friday. But getting better, working every single day," said the new mayor, who has only been in office for two weeks.

She said they will tweak how barricades are deployed.

Friday evening FOX 8 News cameras captured a police officer rescuing a woman from her car after she drove into deep water under the Carrollton underpass.

"What we did learn is that we have to do and we will do and are in the midst of is doing a better job of educating our police officers as to exactly where those barricades are positioned," Cantrell said. "That was one of the reasons we didn't see barricades on the overpass at Carrollton, but we did have the vehicles blocking and we did have a resident kind of go around one of the vehicles, and officer Frank had to immediately just pull forward and rescue one of our residents."

Cantrell said she has been in touch with FEMA, and Gov John Bel Edwards in case the city needs assistance given the latest weather threat.

Cantrell spent a large portion of the press conference talking about the need to further embrace green infrastructure to reduce the amount of rainwater ending up in the drainage system.

She said over a billion dollars in projects are stalled due to design phase issues, and that she is working with FEMA to change that.

"That's been a big, huge bottleneck that we've found, including our green infrastructure program which has languished. I'm telling you in the design stage at this point for too long, over six, nine, 12 months we've been waiting," said Cantrell.

Copyright 2018 WVUE. All rights reserved.