New Orleans mayoral candidates discuss strategies to fix flooding problem

New Orleans mayoral candidates discuss strategies to fix flooding problem

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, Saturday, a burned out turbine was back in service, but the city is still vulnerable in the event of a heavy rainstorm.

The issue has been placed firmly on the front burner of the mayor's race, as the outgoing mayor conducts a third-party audit of what went wrong during last week's floods.

One week after a deluge that flooded scores of cars, and homes and led to a major shakeup in the sewerage and water board, the mayor says progress is being made in the effort to bring the system back up to speed.

"Wednesday night's fire on control panel took down one turbine, we worked around the clock, it's now running again," said Landrieu.

But with three turbines still down, the system remains under-powered, and the mayor urges citizens to remain vigilant, as he works to repair them and take the board in a new direction.

"I do not intend to privatize sewerage and water board, and I don't intend to sign any long term contracts to bind the next administration," said Landrieu.

This fall, New Orleans votes for a new mayor, and candidates are weighing in.

"Having council members back on the Sewerage and Water Board is something we have to think about," said mayoral candidate Latoya Cantrell.

"Once we get the audit, the parties who do it, should not be the same ones who perform the task that the audit says is warranted," said mayoral candidate Michael Bagneris.

"We need prisoners from Orleans Parish Prison over to remove the debris," said mayoral candidate Frank Scurlock.

As the candidates discuss a major new campaign issue, we learn more about what was, and wasn't working during last week's flood, at the 17th Street Canal pumping station, which services Orleans and Jefferson.

"In addition to four major pumps that were out at Station 6 for an hour, there were two more pumps not allowed to run for reasons that are not clear yet," said Matt McBride with ''

And McBride says a review of operator logs, shows, that pumps at station 12, which services Lakeview, didn't go on until nearly 9 p.m. last Saturday, seven hours after the rain began falling.

"I didn't need to read the logs to know this part of the city wasn't draining," said Michelle Douglas with the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association.
As they mop up their businesses and dry out their cars, Lakeview residents will be watching the candidates closely.

"As citizens we need to hold people more accountable," said Douglas.

"Changes need to be made at the state level to create a New Orleans Sewerage and Water Department within city government so we can have accountability," said Cantrell.

"We have to have a commission of citizens to do oversite," said Scurlock.

"In order to implement that strategy you execute on that plan, then you have a matrix to determine if you're achieving the result," said Bagneris.

Bagneris says after an audit,  progress in making repairs would have to be monitored.

We will be speaking with other candidates on flooding issues, and  how they would work to make things better.

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