Apocalypse Now? Dire predictions about the impact of streetflooding

A warning from top official about the economic effects on New Orleans business

Thomas Perumean
August 27, 2019 - 7:00 am

Monday's mini deluge dumped between three and five inches of water in a two hour period, according to WWL-TV meteorologist Alexandra Cranford.  

Sewerage and Water Board says storms that drop more than in inch an hour can outpace the capacity of their system.  

Streetflooding in the CBD not only impacted businesses Monday, it could have long lasting effects unless something gets done to keep the area free of rising water according to the Director of Downtown Development District, Kurt M. Weigle.  

"This has the potential to have a major economic impact on downtown and because of downtown's importance to the city," Weigle says.  

Weigle was hearing from inspectors and rangers walking the downtown reporting back to him about the flooding:  "That can't go on year-after-year."  

"It is going to start impacting the economic viability of downtown if we do not get a handle on this one way or another," Weigle stated matter-of-factly.  

Worse, the rain and flooding hit as the Sewerage and Water Board has approached the District with a request to pay more for rebuilding and renovations to the storm drainage system.  

"I think there is certainly a level of distrust in the Sewerage and Water Board and to a degree the city," Weigle says.  "In order for our stakeholders to be willing to put up more money as they're being asked to today, we've got to rebuild that confidence."  

Weigle saw how waves, pushed by cars, splashed against walls and washed into the doors of ground floor businesses and lobbies of buildings.  

"It is having an impact on not just businesses but residents, and it's not just the ground floor businesses either.  It's folks who cannot get clients in and out of the offices because of streetflooding."  

This is the fourth time this year streetflooding has resulted in businesses bearing the brunt of invading water.  

"We need to get to the root of why this is happening now," Weigle says.  "We, working with Sewerage and Water Board and the city--who's primary responsiblity this is--need to get to the bottom of this try to understand what we can do in the meantime before any longer term fixes are put in place."  

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