Thursday, August 10, 2017

How to make a disaster worse

The leadership of the city of New Orleans provided a great lesson over the last week in how not to handle a crisis.  9 inches of rain fell on New Orleans last weekend.  Unfortunately for the Crescent City, 16 pumps didn't work (We will get around to the turbines that failed today in a separate post.) and flooding commenced. The city lied and said they were working at full capacity but the city used a different definition for "full capacity."  The Times-Picayune reported:

Eight major pumps were broken as the city's drainage system struggled to handle torrential rainfall Saturday afternoon, Sewerage and Water Board officials said Tuesday (Aug. 8), which left floodwaters standing in parts of Mid-City and Lakeview for up to 12 hours.

The revelations about problems in the system proved what many locals had suspected -- that initial statements from the Sewerage and Water Board claiming the system was operating at full capacity were false. The clearer picture of what contributed to the severe flooding emerged during a City Council special meeting called to investigate what happened.

In response, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a dramatic shakeup in leadership over drainage infrastructure. Sewerage and Water Board executive director of Cedric Grant had announced before the council hearing that he plans to retire at the end of hurricane season. (KF note: His pension will be $175,000 per year. You read that correctly)

Landrieu said he is also calling for the resignations of SW&B general superintendent Joseph Becker and communications director Lisa Martin. The city's Public Works Director Mark Jernigan will leave his post later this month, the mayor said.

The city is unable to make decisions that impact public safety "if we don't have credibility, and we don't have the real facts," Landrieu said.

More than 9 inches of rain fell in Mid-City and up to 5 inches came down in other neighborhoods, including Treme and Lakeview, pushing floodwaters into homes, businesses and vehicles starting around 3 p.m. Many locals questioned how storm water sat stagnant for hours, into the night and early Sunday morning, if all pumps were working.

Grant and Becker insisted over the weekend that the drainage system was fully operational, and the floods could be blamed on a rare, intense deluge of water and even on the impact of climate change.

Becker, when asked by council members about the discrepancy in the picture painted over the weekend and the reality revealed Tuesday, said the initial statements were meant to convey that "all the pump stations were working at the capacity they had available to them." Those words drew jeers from the crowd that packed City Hall for the council's special meeting. (KF: That means if only 60% capacity was available but the pumps were operating at 100% of the 60%, then the pumps were at full capacity.  You can't make this up.)

Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said the Sewerage and Water Board repeatedly told council members that the system was operating at capacity. "We knew when this was happening over the weekend, something was not right," Cantrell said. "We have been told lies and that is the truth."

Frustrated residents listened for hours as council members questioned the Sewerage and Water Board leaders, Jernigan from Public Works, Landrieu's emergency response team and the Army Corps of Engineers. One person shouted "tell the truth Mr. Grant." Another woman held up a yellow notepad with the word "lies" in black marker.

During the hearing, Council President Jason Williams told Becker that he owes an apology to the city. In response, Becker said on behalf of the Sewerage and Water Board, he apologizes "for the confusion with the message we delivered."

Pump outages and power problems at stations reduced the overall capacity of the system. At pumping station No. 6 in Lakeview, for example, four pumps weren't working, leading to the station operating at only 57 percent capacity, Becker said. He later added that for about an hour, power problems at the station further reduced capacity to 52 percent. Other outages and power problems reduced capacity at other stations.

"I almost feel -- I thought we were on a witch hunt, and we found witches," Councilman James Gray said. "A few minutes ago you told me you were at 57 percent and now you told me you were down to 52 percent."

Landrieu did not appear during the 5 1/2-hour meeting. He instead called a news conference on the second floor of City Hall, even as impassioned members of the public were speaking in front of the council about the impact of the floods.  (KF: LEADERSHIP!!!!)

Landrieu said responses from S&WB officials during the council meeting were "an insult to the public."

"I am not happy with what I have learned," Landrieu said, adding that he has "ordered an independent third-party analysis" to discover the problems behind what occurred over the weekend. "I completely and totally understand the people's frustration after the flood, and more importantly with some of the misinformation they have been given," he said.

In addition to the eight major drainage pumps that were out of service, an additional six "constant duty" smaller capacity pumps that stay on to deal with groundwater were also not working. Becker said pumps were operating, but it was "simply too much rain" for the system. At one point over the weekend, Grant had suggested the floods could be blamed on climate change.....

Aaron Miller, head of the city's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Response, told the council that the Sewerage and Water Board did not alert his office to the fact that some of the city's pumps weren't working. Miller also provided a timeline of Saturday's events.

The first 911 calls from people trapped in flooded cars came in at 3:17 p.m.; the first 911 calls from people reporting water entering buildings or approaching doorsteps came in 3:30 p.m. Miller said the city issued its text message emergency alert to citizens of flooding at 4:03 p.m. Miller said the department looks for other sources to verify information from 911 calls, which caused the time gap.....

Cantrell said it's unacceptable the city didn't alert citizens about what roads to avoid or even use barricades to block off certain areas. "You're the connector and convener, in terms of coordinating services and response," she told Miller. "I just feel this is your sole responsibility, and you dropped the ball on this one."

The hearing also sought answers from the city's Department of Public Works, which is responsible for clearing catch basins and the smaller drainage pipes that connect to the Sewerage and Water Board system. ...

Cantrell pointed out during the meeting that the council allocated $3 million last year just for catch basin and drainage work. Jernigan said the department had not yet completed an environmental review that would allow the drainage work to begin.

Williams continued to question why the work hadn't been done.

"Is there a supervisor? Is there someone who is telling you that you can't move forward with more catch basin work?" Williams said.

Jernigan said he did not have enough resources for the work. Someone in the audience shouted: "Y'all are killing our city from the inside out."...

As Tuesday's hearing spanned into the evening, residents from across the city condemned the apparent falsehoods put forth over the weekend and vented frustrations over why the city's spending isn't returning results in better drainage.

Darrell Hayward, a Sewerage and Water Board employee who said he worked at a pumping station, shared problems he has experienced on the job. It's difficult to address problems like those that exacerbated Saturday's flooding because decisions have to be made at the department head level, leaving supervisors and employees such as himself powerless, he said.

Power supply issues at the pumping stations have existed since July 22, when Mid-City and other areas flooded after more than 4 inches of rain fell, Hayward said..... Rest of article
Kingfish note: Pitiful.  Did the leadership of Ole Miss and New Orleans have an exchange program?


Anonymous said...

No, they can't keep their pumps in operation, but they're by God efficient when it comes to taking down Confederate monuments. Screw 'em.

Anonymous said...

The water and sewer board is a special purpose government, much like the airport commission or all the many special districts here in the Jackson metro area. The mayor of New Orleans is always the president, and the mayor appoints members with city council approval, but only from a list of nominees sent by a selection committee, largely made up of representatives from local colleges and universities, and business groups.

Anonymous said...

That city is sinking into the ground slowly over time. If nothing else, they should have the pumps running correctly.

..........And they want to gentrify their money maker, the French quarter.

Anonymous said...

The buck stops at Landrieu. Period.

He knows that and he's treading water.

Anonymous said...

They are about to blow up Guam and this is what we are talking about.

Anonymous said...

The wise man built his house upon the rock? Not down under a river?

Sum Yung Dung said...

6:02; The flooding in N.O. is real. You've bought a bushel of bullshit if you believe the Guam hype. Go out to the mailbox and talk to your imaginary neighbor about Guam.

Anonymous said...

Crescent Moon is watching his Presidential dreams wash away.

Anonymous said...

I was there. Yes, it was torrential. Repeatedly people said it was unprecedented rain. Streets in the Quarter became fast flowing rivers. Climate change is real. It is real. All summer has shown it.

Anonymous said...

Guam... the acorn that fell on my car was actually the sky falling!! Quick take shelter!!😱

Anonymous said...

i thought getting rid of those confederate monuments would solve all the problems in NOLA.

Anonymous said...

New Orleans should invest in Al Gore

Anonymous said...

The city probably could have used a good bath anyway.

Anonymous said...

New Orleans is a city built for disaster. There is no fix. None. Climate change
will simply make the fact more obvious. Between disasters, Let the Good times Roll!

Anonymous said...

In New Orleans they may not like P. G. T Beaureguard, Jefferson Davis, or Robert E. Lee. But if they had one of those three in charge of the pumps, the pumps would move water.

Rick Parry said...


Anonymous said...

Baby Moon: "...well, at least we got rid of the monuments, and with them, the murd......well, we got rid of the monuments."

Anonymous said...

A real-life "Confederacy of Dunces"...

Anonymous said...

NOLA - the city that works. Detroit - the city that prospers.

That's what we need in Jackson, folks from the City Council of bankrupt Detroit and public works directors from the City of New Orleans, to solve our infrastructure problems.

Anonymous said...

Back when New Orleans was thriving, the infrastructure was being engineered, constructed, and maintained, by GERMANS (and before them, Frenchmen). Wealthy Scotsmen and Jews were donating their wealth, to build the city's institutions.

Those populations are GONE. I just hope that the dregs remaining in New Orleans, don't follow the nicer types who've been moving to Natchez and Jackson. We already have enough stupidity, triviality, and corruption. We've already got too much of our own.

Anonymous said...

When you have contractors from N.O. That have been around for close to 100 years and in one case more, there tends to be a system of corruption and complacency. There is no excuse for the amount of money the Corps of Engineers have spent to have this typ of situation. So, with that being said....corruption.

Anonymous said...

I guess threatening of Venezuela didn't happen either. Anybody notice the price of gas going uo?.. See Venezuela... Diplomacy is not being a Bully

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh, another Dim-O-Krat utopia, just like Jackson!!!!!!!

"Anybody that would build a city 5 feet below sea level in a hurricane zone and fill it with Democrats is a damn genius".
......Larry the Cable Guy

( Especially the ones that can't swim!!)

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS