City says power lost to pumping stations ahead of possible heavy rain

Power loss diminishes pumping capacity

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board lost service to one of its power turbines, which provides power to a majority of the city's pumping stations serving the East Bank of New Orleans.

A turbine on Claiborne Ave. caught fire and apparently caused the problem.

As a result, the system's capacity to drain storm water from the streets is diminished further for the East Bank of New Orleans, west of the Industrial Canal. This does not affect New Orleans East, Lower Ninth Ward and Algiers.

"I am therefore urging residents in the affected area in the event of rain to move their vehicles to higher ground, take necessary actions to protect personal properties, stay off of the roadways during storms unless an emergency makes it absolutely necessary to do so," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

Pumping stations in Algiers, New Orleans East and Lower Ninth Ward are operating off of a separate power source and therefore are not impacted by this outage.

"This could be as early as later today (Thursday), or it could be longer. We just do not know yet," Landrieu said.

The mayor said the city will be vulnerable for the next 24 to 48 hours. He said four out of five turbines are out of service. They are being worked on and scheduled to come back into service. Some of the turbines have been out for a while, Landrieu said.

Even with the pumps working, the city said it is now uncertain about the "inch of rain pumped in first hour, half an inch after" assessment.

At this time, drinking water and sewerage services for all of the city are not affected by this outage.

Crews are on site now working to repair the down turbine and secure backup power to restore power to the pumping stations.

"We are going to do everything in our power to secure this additional equipment and to get the plant back in order," Landrieu said.

Due to the potentially severe weather that could result from high water, residents should call 911 to report street flooding and life-threatening emergencies. Residents are advised to remain indoors during heavy rainfall.

"The chief has been instructed to make sure that the police department is ready and prepared in the case that we need them. Chief McConnell has been instructed to have the fire department ready," Landrieu said.

The mayor said that he has spoken to the governor and that city leaders have been following the situation all through the night. He also called an emergency meeting of the Sewerage and Water Board at 9 a.m. on Thursday. That was announced earlier this week.

"We need more power and we need more redundancy," Landrieu said about the pumps.

The mayor said he is not asking the city to panic, but after the events of last week, he wants the public to be on alert.

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