Aug 8, 2017

New Orleans flood fallout: Officials lose jobs; revelation of inoperable pumps 'insulting to the public'

New Orleans, LA
USA
by
Jeff Adelson
,
The Advocate
New Orleans resident Richard Wallace reacts to testimony during a special New Orelans City Council meeting about recent flooding and pumping stations in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, August 8, 2017. Photo: Matthew Hinton, Advocate staff
New Orleans resident Richard Wallace reacts to testimony during a special New Orelans City Council meeting about recent flooding and pumping stations in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, August 8, 2017. Photo: Matthew Hinton, Advocate staff

Pumping stations serving the two New Orleans neighborhoods hit hardest by Saturday's flood were operating at barely above half their full capacity, officials admitted Tuesday, directly contradicting assurances offered earlier by the Sewerage & Water Board and leading Mayor Mitch Landrieu to purge several top city officials.

The acknowledgement that critical portions of the mammoth system of pumps and canals intended to deal with heavy rainfall were down, pulled from S&WB officials during hours of testimony before the City Council on Tuesday afternoon, came after the agency had spent three days telling residents the pumps were operating to their fullest extent.

Cedric Grant, one of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s highest-ranking deputies and the head of the Sewerage & Water Board, said he would retire at the end of hurricane season this fall, admitting that the public had lost confidence in his agency.

Public Works Director Mark Jernigan, who came under fire amid questions about whether his agency had done enough to clean the catch basins that feed the drainage system, submitted his resignation shortly after testifying to the City Council.

Landrieu said he would ask members of the S&WB this week to fire two other high-ranking officials, including the agency's general superintendent, Joe Becker.