New Orleans Flood Pump Breaks As Harvey Approaches. How Many More Will Shut Off?

REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told reporters one of the city’s pumps broke just one week after being repaired, sparking worries about the rest of the city’s pumping system as Tropical Storm Harvey makes its way north.

The pump broke on Monday as Harvey brought rains to the city. New Orleans is expected to get between five and 10 inches of rain through Thursday, but flooding could be made worse if the city’s pumping system breaks down.

Officials aren’t sure if they can fix the pump in time for Harvey.

New Orleans’s pumping system wasn’t able to stop flooding in early August when a storm resulted in widespread flooding. Sewerage and Water Board director Cedric Grant blamed climate change for the floods, but it turned out the city’s antiquated pumping system was to blame.

Many of the city’s 120 pumps were offline or working at partial capacity due to fires and the fact some of them rely on an antiquated power system to keep the pumps going. Taxpayers have funneled billions of dollars into the pumping system.

The Obama administration gave New Orleans $2 billion in 2015 to upgrade its infrastructure, a portion of which was supposed to go towards the pump system. Experts say $9 billion is needed to fully upgrade the system, according to CNN.

Now, the city faces Harvey with diminished pumping capacity. Much of the city is below sea level.

Landrieu urged residents to stay home and wait out the storm. Harvey is expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico before moving up the coast through Louisiana.

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