Cantrell: We cannot pump our way out of the water expected to hit the city

Don Ames
July 11, 2019 - 12:13 pm

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell held a news conference Thursday morning to appraise citizens of the city's preparations as Tropical Storm Barry approaches Louisiana. The mayor said New Orleans is under a Tropical Storm Watch.

"There has been a shift eastward, and this means that there would be a possible Category 1 storm at landfall for the City of New Orleans," she explains. "We could see impact as early as Friday morning, with the city at the heart of the storm Saturday, is what we're being told."

The mayor noted that this will be a slow-moving storm, with potentially heavy, consistent rainfall for up to 48 hours. "We are continuing to monitor levels of the Mississippi River river levels, and the potential of a storm surge in the river to push water levels forward."

She continues, "We did hear about a reduction of about one foot, as it relates to the river, but it still puts us at 19 feet. The capacity there is 20 feet, but that could shift."

Mayor Cantrell said no voluntary or mandatory evacuation will be ordered by the city. Instead, she urged residents to shelter in place.

"Sheltering in place is our strategy. Citizens are urged to secure property and gather supplies," she warns. 

"You need to have 72 hours of food, water, and medication for everyone in your house, including your pets," said Colin Arnold, Director of New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. "Three days worth of food, and water, and medication."

Mayor Cantrell said the city will eliminate Friday and Saturday garbage pickup throughout the city, so citizens must not put trash cans out at curbside. "It is uncertain what the impact will be, but we will be affected and we need to be prepared...both the city and its residents."

Mayor Cantrell also notes that the city's drainage pumps are working at optimal capacity while still warning of the dangers. "But, we cannot pump our way out of the water levels and the water fall expected to hit the City of New Orleans."

Meanwhile, New Orleans Police officers will be working overtime to help ensure public safety.

"We are moving to a 12-hour shift," said New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson. "All hands on deck, effective 7:00 a.m. tomorrow."

Ferguson said that includes keeping up its law enforcement mission.

"We're not going to just focus on just the hurricane or rescue and search," the chief said. "We're also going to be looking out for those individuals who see this as an opportunity to victimize our citizens."

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