Crews prepare to mobilize as tropical disturbance heads towards the gulf

Crews prepare to mobilize as tropical disturbance heads towards the gulf

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Concern is growing as a tropical weather event heads our way, putting several area parishes in a river flood warning Tuesday (July 9) and through the weekend.

But, parish and homeland security leaders said they are confident they’re doing all they can to keep people safe.

And, as the unnamed disturbance makes its way into the gulf, crews have already started to mobilize.

Jefferson Parish crews were installing portable pumps in low lying areas Tuesday, including four different portable pump stations in Lafitte. While this is routine operations for hurricane season, drainage superintendent Dominick Ditcharo said he hopes this is just a practice run for his crews.

“I’m hoping this will be a test run and we don’t get the storm, that’s what I’m hoping for. But if it does, everything’s in place and prepared to pump out the water that comes in,” Ditcharo said.

With 184 pumps in working order in Jefferson parish and one pump in repair, Parish President Mike Yenni said he feels confident they’re prepared to respond to any incoming weather.

“Any God-given event, you don’t know what can happen, you don’t know what kind of stress will be put on the levees,” Yenni said. “I do have faith in the engineers and Army Corps, who worked hard to shore up all the levees in this area.”

While crews may be prepared to deal with rain, water within the riverbanks may present just as much a concern. The national weather service issued a river flood warning for several area parishes Tuesday, as a storm surge is expected to make the already high river levels rise even more.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, forecasts show a potential for a three-foot rise in the river at the Carrollton gauge by Saturday, corps spokesman Ricky Boyett said.

“That’s a big rise, it’s a high water level against our levee system. Fortunately for the levee system in New Orleans, its 20 to 25 feet above sea level, so we’re in good shape to pass this event. But it’s a significant rain event that could be headed our way,” Boyett said.

Boyett said considering the high river and expected rainfall, this storm will test both the hurricane system and the river control structure at the same time.

“It’s rare where they’re both working at the same time, and fortunately, they’re both in great shape,” Boyett said.

But with still days ahead, there’s one piece of advice that’s worth repeating, Boyett said.

“Always be prepared with hurricane season we can see things can come quickly they can change rapidly,” Boyett said.

The city of New Orleans is also mobilizing crews ahead of the storm and asking residents to check their storm drains and call 311 if a drain needs attention or is damaged.

Collin Arnold, the director of homeland security for the city of New Orleans, said as of Tuesday, 118 of 120 Sewerage and Water Board pumps are up and working, as are all the turbines.

Arnold also said in addition to starting to pull together an emergency operations center, the city expects to also start closing flood gates.

“They are starting tomorrow and will close the Mississippi river flood gates, and I believe that is directly because of the level of the river right now,” Arnold said.

While city and parish operations are preparing for this storm, they said they said it is still important that residents need to be prepared as well.

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