NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Fewer than 24 hours after the curtain came down on Mardi Gras 2018, city workers were picking up so-called "gutter buddies" positioned in front of catch basins on St. Charles and other areas to catch wayward beads. City Hall is giving the movable debris barriers good reviews.
After cleaning more than 15,000 catch basins earlier this year and pulling tons of old Mardi Gras beads from them, the city installed 250 barriers next to street drains in hopes of reducing the amount of parade debris entering drains.
Interim Director of Public Works the Dani Galloway said Wednesday that the gutter buddies worked as they are designed to. She said during the weeks of Carnival, she and others in her department walked the parade route.
"And I think we were able, you know, to prevent a lot of beads and other debris from going in the catch basins even though we had a couple of days of rain," Galloway said Wednesday.
With the retrieval of the gutter buddies underway, Galloway said starting Thursday workers will begin checking drains to see how many beads and other debris made it pass the barriers and into the drainage system.
"And throughout next week we will go down the parade routes and make sure we pop the lids and see what got in," she said. "I'm hopeful. We did that last weekend after the first weekend of Mardi Gras, and there was a lot less debris than we have seen in the past."
And over the course of the Carnival season, Galloway said she was impressed with how the public took care of the gutter buddies.
"If something had, like, shifted, I saw a lot of people - I walked the parade route a lot this weekend - you know, adjusting them with their feet and things like that, so that was heartening to see our residents taking some accountability, as well, you know for the system," she said.
At midnight Tuesday, New Orleans police shut down the revelry and the latest round of massive cleanup began. The city's sanitation department has been collecting garbage from parade routes throughout the parade season.
"We're still emptying roll-off containers and dump trucks, but so we don't have the total volume yet. Last year we were about 1,300 tons," said Cynthia Sylvain-Lear, director of the New Orleans Sanitation Department.
She said trash collected by hundreds of city workers from various departments and contractors may be more than what was hauled in last year.
"We actually used a transfer station if you will so that smaller trucks dumped into 548 foot trailers and we were maxing out, so our tonnage may be higher this year than in previous years," Sylvain-Lear said.
She urged residents to recycle their beads.
""We've accepted Mardi Gras beads at our recycling drop-off and this Saturday. We have our recycling drop-off and so we encourage people to bring their Mardi Gras beads to us and ARC will take them, reuse them, repackage them," she said.
As for the gutter buddies' future in New Orleans, it appears bright after a test run during one of the most important seasons of the year.
"And I think it worked well, and I think it's something that the city will adopt moving forward," said Galloway.
And the city urges people to recycle their Mardi Gras beads.
"We've accepted Mardi Gras beads at our recycling drop-off and this Saturday…We have our recycling drop-off and we encourage people to bring their Mardi Gras beads to us and ARC will take them, reuse them, repackage them," said Sylvain-Lear.
She also commended members of the public who assisted in cleaning up areas after parades.