WATCH: Yenni says New Orleans failed to notify pumps were out

Contract requires phone call, Yenni says

Chris Miller
August 11, 2017 - 4:39 pm

Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni says New Orleans failed to live up to its end of their agreement on sharing the 17th Street Canal to drain their neighborhoods.

"The 2007 contractual agreement between Orleans and Jefferson Parish that governs the operation of the 17th Street Canal station was neglected," said Yenni. "That contract reads that any change in the status impacting inflow and outflow from the 17th Street Canal Station will results in a telephone call from the city of New Orleans administrators to Jefferson Parish administrators to notify us of a potential problem."

Yenni said they never got that call, and Jefferson Parish had to call the Sewerage and Water Board when they heard reports via the news media that people were claiming the pumps weren't on.

"Our director of drainage, Mitch Theriot, contacted Mr. Joe Becker at about 8:11 p.m., and he told us that, you know, the station was pumping," said Yenni. "He did not tell us that there were four pumps down."

Yenni said they had received written notification last month that four pumps at the station were inoperable, but they did not know if those pumps had been fixed or not by August 5, when a thunderstorm soaked parts of the area with eight to ten inches of rain in about three hours and flooded streets and some buildings.

"I am frustrated and quite frankly angered that neither I nor anyone in the office of the parish president was notified," Yenni said during a news conference Friday afternoon. "That neglect could have made us more vulnerable."

Yenni said Mayor Mitch Landrieu and city officials have since agreed to update them twice daily on the status of pumping capacity and power available to pump stations. In turn, Yenni says Jefferson Parish has offered its help in fixing the problem, an offer he says the city hasn't accepted or declined, but the offer stands nonetheless.

Jefferson Parish pays New Orleans $1 million per year as part of the agreement to use the 17th Street Canal.

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