More than 35,000 streets are flooded in New Orleans after a Lower Garden District man allegedly dropped his water bottle while on a walk, overwhelming the city’s pumping system and causing the area’s latest deluge.
Extensive flooding is being reported throughout the city with water as deep as .03″ to .05″ in some spots.
Todd Cheramie, the man whose bottle of water fell to the pavement while he walked his dog, said he feels absolutely terrible about what’s happened.
“Burreaux [dog] was calmly walking along when he saw a squirrel and darted after it making the leash hit my water bottle, knocking it out of my hand. I couldn’t believe it. New Orleans avoids Laura and Sally but still gets Todd,” Cheramie said glumly. “By the time I saw what was happening it was too late. I’m sorry, y’all.”
The Sewerage & Water Board, which has been under intense criticism and scrutiny in recent years over drainage, infrastructure, billing, and management issues, said its system worked as anticipated.
“New Orleans’ drainage system can collect and move considerable amounts of water in real-time, but it has limits and this was just an unfortunate Act of God, er… Todd,” said Ghassan Korban, executive director of the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, as he surveyed the devastation via the city’s new $16.7 million drone.
With the drainage system overwhelmed, city officials said residents should prepare for several rounds of more water bottle falls over the next few days “just in case.”
“While we don’t expect more water bottles to be dropped and add to the water level you just never know — it’s better to be prepared,” said Clark Apparatchik, spokesperson for Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
The Sewerage & Water Board said all 99 drainage pumps were available this morning for the flash flood but overall they were unable to keep up with the heavy amount of spilling water.
“There is very little margin for error in the drainage system right now,” Korban said. “That’s why we ask everyone to do their part in helping to keep the city from flooding.”
Korban noted that the Sewerage and Water can’t go through the motions of protecting the city from flooding unless it has operational money to do so, therefore it is up to New Orleans citizens to pay their bills on time no matter their cost or accuracy.
“You can’t put a price on not flooding. But we can. We need everyone to pay up.”
City officials said they are monitoring the water levels and encouraging residents to avoid underpasses, low-lying areas, and the city of New Orleans in general.