City allocates $26 million in funds for additional drainage improvements

Plan funds to fix thousands of catch basins, add early warning system for underpass flooding

August 19, 2017 - 8:50 am
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The City of New Orleans has presented an approximately $26 million plan from Mayor Landrieu to clean and fix thousands of catch basins, provide an early warning system for underpass flooding and conduct a comprehensive analysis of the problems that led up to the July 22 and August 5 floods. Mayor Landrieu previously announced the City would work to clean and fix more catch basins and drain lines, especially in areas most prone to flooding.
 
The money coming from the City’s fund balance will include $7.8 million to the Department of Public Works (DPW) for catch basin and drainage point repairs, $3 million to Homeland Security for disaster preparedness, $650,000 to Homeland Security for underpass flood early warning system, and $500,000 to Chief Administrative Office for Root Cause Analysis. Additionally, bond funds that were committed to other road projects will provide $14.2 million for catch basin and drainage point repairs making the total $22 million.

The City provided the following updates Friday evening:
 
DPW is working to clean catch basins and drain lines. DPW now has four trucks operating, each staffed with a two-person crew. The Department’s other vacuum truck is undergoing necessary maintenance to repair engine power issues. Crews are still working to return these truck to service. DPW cleans an average of 5 to 6 catch basins per day per vacuum truck crew for an average of 4,263 catch basins per year. DPW flushes approximately 48 miles or 255,780 linear feet of drain line per year.
 
Turbine Repairs and Generators on Line
The turbine damaged on the evening of August 9, Turbine #1, has been repaired and is operational. To provide additional capacity and redundancy, 26 generators were ordered and 22 of 26 are operating.
 
This redundancy will remain throughout Hurricane Season. The City will update residents on generator installations, and pump and turbine repairs as information becomes available.
 
Drainage Pumps
According to the S&WB, there are currently 104 of the 120 pumps available to be operational in the event of heavy rainfall. The 16 pumps that are out of service are being assessed for emergency repairs, and the pumps that are operational are being assessed to determine their capacity. At this time, five different contractors are beginning work around the clock to fix the pumps that are out of service. 
 
S&WB has posted a status update of the pumps on its website. In response to recent rain events on July 22 and August 5, S&WB has provided to the public Drainage Pumping Station Logs and the Central Control Log Book. Those items are available at [accounts/LANOLA/swbno.org]www.swbno.org.
 
Diesel Leak at 17th St. Canal
On Tuesday night, the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) and Jefferson Parish Fire Department received calls reporting the odor of diesel near Sewerage and Water Board Pumping Station #6 (345 Orpheum Ave.) The responding crews blocked and absorbed the flow of diesel.
 
As of today, the operations for the diesel leak continue in both mitigation and investigation modes. While the investigation is still ongoing, NOFD remains confident that the area of the retainment berm around diesel storage tank at the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board (SWB) Carrollton Plant is the source of the reported diesel leak into the drainage canals and sewer system. Teams continue working to determine what caused the leak to occur, get an estimate of how much diesel may have escaped and conclude how the diesel traveled from the containment area into the drainage and sewer systems.
 
The majority of the spilled diesel has been cleaned and no additional fuel has appeared, however; environmental teams from these agencies are continuing the mitigation and clean-up effort by laying soft boom to absorb the remaining diesel and cleaning diesel deposits from the sides of the canals. All proper notifications have been made and the City of New Orleans and SWB remain in contact with the Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the United States Coast Guard.
 
Fixing Broken SWB Infrastructure
Under emergency procurement, S&WB is finalizing a contract with engineering firm CH2M to serve as the project manager for fixing turbines and pumps that are broken. CH2M is also supporting efforts to stabilize the power generation and drainage pumping systems. Four pump operators from CH2M arrived yesterday and received introductory training.
S&WB also has a team of power generation experts from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assisting.
 
Assessment of What Is “Operational”
Additionally, S&WB is finalizing an emergency contract with Veolia to immediately assess what equipment is currently working but may not be at optimal capacity so S&WB can make fixes and truly know the pumping capacity at this time.
 
Third Party Operational Support
S&WB has brought in third-party technical assistance to establish a plan and process for how to return the three downed turbines to service; how to acquire additional equipment for backup power sources such as generators, transformers, feeders and other equipment; how to fix the broken pumps as soon as possible; and, to determine the true capacity of the working pumps. The City is also in the process of reallocating funds to increase its capacity to clean and repair more catch basins and drain lines.
 
Independent, Third-Party Analysis
On Monday, the City of New Orleans released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an independent third-party firm to conduct an analysis of the flood events of July 22, August 5, August 8, along with other past events, and the turbine failure at the S&WB Carrollton Power Plant on August 9, 2017. The City is seeking a firm to deliver a report that details in narrative, diagrams and data the causes of the flood events and turbine failure. It should be completed with input and analysis from subject matter experts and interviews with staff and contractors in order to determine the underlying causes. In addition, the analysis will provide clear and accurate information to the public from an independent source regarding the system’s capacity and vulnerabilities that can be communicated to the public.
 
Respondents must possess subject matter expertise and extensive experience in both root-cause analysis and the technical subject matter involved. Proposals are due by August 21, 2017. To view the RFP, click here.
 
Sandbags Available for Pick-Up
In anticipation of rainfall, sandbags are available at two locations, the intersection of Elysian Fields Avenue and I-610, and S. Broad Avenue and Poydras Street. Sandbags are no longer being offered at Perdido Street and S. Lopez Street.
 
Preparing for High Water
NOPD has staged barricades in the following areas prone to flooding, including under overpasses around the city. At this time, the City also has high water vehicles and other response vehicles on hand in the event that flooding occurs.
Paris Avenue and Gentilly Boulevard
St. Bernard Avenue at I-610
Franklin Avenue at I-610
Gentilly Boulevard and Peoples Avenue
Press Drive and Leon C. Simon Drive
Broad Street and A.P. Tureaud Street
City Park Pumping Station
Canal Boulevard and Navarre Street
Tulane Avenue and S. Carrollton Avenue
Metairie Road at I-10
 
Viewing Real-Time Traffic Accidents Online
The City also unveiled Streetwise, a website for viewing real-time reports of flooding and accidents from 911 calls. To see where reported traffic accidents and street flooding are occurring, visit [accounts/LANOLA/streetwise.nola.gov]streetwise.nola.gov.
 
Response to Flooding
New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness conducted damage assessments along with State officials. Due to the highly-localized flooding and the differences block-by-block in flooding impacts, the City is conducting individual outreach door-to-door. The Office of Economic Development is conducting outreach to businesses. The City encourages anyone with questions on debris collection, flood assessment or flood clean-up to call 311 as this helps the City get more information about specific impact of flooding.
 
According to FEMA, over 800 insurance claims have been filed in New Orleans through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
 
The City has also requested assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
 
Flood Recovery Resource Center 
This week, the City of New Orleans announced it would host a flood recovery resource center to provide flood-affected residents and businesses additional access to information and resources. A National Flood Insurance Program specialist and several community organizations will be present to inform the public of available services.
 
The final flood recovery resource center will be hosted at the Corpus Christi Epiphany Community Resource Center at 2022 St. Bernard Ave, (entrance at the corner of N. Galvez Street and Onzaga Street) tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information on flood recovery resources, residents and business owners should visit https://nola.gov/ready/augustflood/ or call 311.
 
Turbine Power Loss on Wed., August 9
On Wednesday, August 9, S&WB lost service to one of its power turbines, leaving only one turbine and Entergy power as the remaining power source. As a result, the system’s capacity to drain stormwater from the streets is diminished for the East Bank of New Orleans, west of the Industrial Canal. Pumping stations in Algiers, New Orleans East and Lower Ninth Ward have diesel generators and therefore are not impacted in this event.
S&WB crews worked 24-hour shifts to repair the turbine and to secure backup power to restore power to drainage pumping stations to the impacted portion of the city.
 
Mayor Signs Declaration of Emergency
On August 10, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed a declaration of emergency for the City of New Orleans and Governor John Bel Edwards signed an emergency declaration the State of Louisiana as well. The local disaster declaration allows for more flexible strategy and purchasing of assets needed in emergencies.
 
Under the Mayor’s declaration, contractors are working around-the-clock to repair pumps currently out of service at G. J. Sullivan Drainage Pumping Station #6 (345 Orpheum Drive.)  As a result of this emergency work, the drainage pumping stations’ ventilation system and exhaust fans must run 24 hours a day. Residents are advised to be patient and should expect to hear the fans operating until further notice. Residents with questions should call the Sewerage and Water Board at 52-WATER (529-2837).
 
City Modifying Plans In Case of Tropical Weather Development
In anticipation of tropical weather during Hurricane Season, the City is actively monitoring tropical weather and reassessing its plans for a variety of scenarios in partnership with Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (GOHSEP), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), US Army Corps of Engineers, National Guard, and other agencies. We are committed to ensuring the city and our residents are prepared and fully informed in the event of a tropical system affecting New Orleans. The planning effort continued this week and the City hosted a tabletop exercise on Friday, August 18 to review plans.
 
City Advises Residents to Take Precautions 
If all of the power from Entergy continues, the City will be able to handle typical rainfall. However, the city remains at risk in the event of a major rain storm until additional turbines are brought back online. Out of an abundance of caution, the City is urging residents in the affected area to move their vehicles to higher ground, take necessary actions to protect personal property, and stay off of roadways during rainstorms unless an emergency makes it absolutely necessary to do so. 
 
Residents should call 911 to report street flooding and life-threatening emergencies. Residents are advised to remain indoors during heavy rainfall. Residents should call 311 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. to 5 p. m. for non-emergency services and general information. The City’s Emergency Operations Center will remain open and staffed until further notice.
 
At this time, drinking water and sewerage services for all of the city are unaffected by this outage. The generators being secured will provide additional redundancy for those systems as well.
 
The City will keep residents updated through email alerts and Twitter @NOLAReady.

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