New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board Under Fire For Poor Flood Response

Aug 9, 2017

The controversy over how the pumps operated in the city of New Orleans during the weekend flooding event is not over. The city council called a meeting just before Sewerage & Water Board Executive Director Cedric Grant announced his retirement saying he’d learned his staff hadn’t been honest about the event. The board’s Superintendent, Joe Becker, said that the system is not designed to handle that much rain in a short period of time.

At issue was the initial response from the board which indicated all of the pumps had worked exactly as they were designed to do. When City Councilman Jason Williams asked Becker about that statement, Becker said, “all of the pump stations were working at their maximum capacity.” Rogers called that a fabrication and asked Becker to clarify.

Becker said he would need six times the drainage that the city currently has to keep up with a rain event like what happened Saturday. The board originally said 7 pumps were out of service the night of the storm, but then came back and said 14, including 8 drainage pumps, were not working. Many asked why they were told everything was running at full capacity.