New Orleans dries out following torrential rain

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans is drying out after torrential rains flooded parts of the city for the second time in two weeks. The City Council has called a special meeting for Tuesday. Members say they want proof the drainage system is working.

State Sen. J.P. Morrell said he was setting up a town hall meeting because “it’s time for a comprehensive, local, overview of the status of flood protection in New Orleans.”

“The city said all pumping stations were up and running and yet many of us flooded,” mayoral candidate Michael Bagneris said in a news release Sunday. “This presents a serious concern if our city’s maximum pumping capabilities are unable to keep up with a rainstorm during hurricane season, even an extreme one.”

Parts of the city also flooded two weeks ago, but the July 22 rain caused mostly street flooding.

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Still, this is far from the first time heavy rains have flooded the city, hurricane season or not.

In May 1995, floods did more than $3 billion in damage and killed six people in the New Orleans metro area. “The May 1995 event affected a much larger area and lasted longer,” Danielle Manning, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Monday.

The city just got more rain at once than the drainage system is designed for, Sewerage and Water Board spokeswoman Lisa Jackson said Monday. The system’s 24 pumps can move out an inch 1 (2.5 centimeters) of rain in the first hour and one-half-inch (1.3 centimeters) each hour after that — the same figures board spokesmen have been providing for decades.

One pumping station got 9.4 inches (23.8 centimeters) in three hours Saturday, Jackson said.

Outside the Port of Call restaurant on the edge of the French Quarter, high water hid the curb from a man in a wheelchair Saturday, said Mike Mollere, the restaurant’s general manager.

“It tipped over and went underwater. One of my cooks was looking out the window. Him and another guy went and uprighted him … got him on his way,” Mollere said Monday.

Flooded cars were being towed to R&S Auto Service, where several cars flooded Saturday. “We tried to move as much stuff as possible … but there weren’t enough high spots,” co-owner Gloria St. Pierre said Monday. She said her office flooded about 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) deep, with 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) in the shop.

One sight in particular struck her…

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