Officials fired over New Orleans' response to torrential rain, flooding

The interior of Willie Mae's Scotch House restaurant which was flooded in the Aug. 5 rains

Early this Morning, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that the Sewerage & Water Board has lost a turbine, which powers most of the cities pumping stations.

Landrieu spokesman Tyronne Walker said the administration is attempting to arrange for a private company to come in "as a temporary arrangement, for a finite time frame to be determined to allow for the stabilization of the system".

At a 7 a.m. press conference, an official from the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board says at current capacity, the pumping system can handle an inch of rain before standing water occurs. All areas west of the Industrial Canal in Orleans Parish should be on high alert.

Many areas of the city, including the Lower Ninth Ward battered during 2005's Hurricane Katrina, are not affected.

Some of the turbines have been out for a while, Landrieu said.

As long as the power supply from Entergy remains steady, the system will be able to handle a "typical rainfall", Landrieu said.

In the mean time, the City urges residents to move vehicles to higher ground and to take necessary precaution to protect personal property during the event of a flood.

Residents also are advised to stay off the roads unless "an emergency makes it absolutely necessary to do so", the mayor's office warned in a statement.

A fire at a turbine that supplies power to drainage pump stations on New Orleans' East Bank has threatened the city's ability to pump water out, as another round of rain is expected to dump water on the city. "I'm hopeful." The fire damaged one of five turbines on which the S&WB relies for its water drainage pumps as well as its water treatment plant.

The flooding that happened last Saturday, where over nine inches of rain fell in a few hours, would be far beyond the pump's capacity in even the best situation, and catastrophic right now, Landrieu said. No other details on those acquisitions have been given.

The National Weather Service is predicting "scattered thunderstorms" for the next week.

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