As Tropical Storm Nate bears down on New Orleans, the Mayor, Mitch Landrieu, has declared a state of emergency, reported the New Orleans Advocate. Meteorologists expect the storm to make landfall as a hurricane sometime during the weekend.
The mayor made the announcement during a Thursday press conference.
"Our job is always to plan for the worst and hope for the best," Landrieu said, noting that there is expected to be 3 and 6 inches of rain from Saturday to Sunday.
Nate is expected to strengthen into a hurricane as it approaches the Gulf Coast. According to the Advocate, there’s a coastal flooding advisory in affect until Sunday.
The tropical system comes during a year when there have been concerns about flooding and drainage for the city. The pumps currently aren’t able to pump out much more than a 1/2 inch per hour.
“After flooding incidents on July 22 and Aug. 5, it was revealed that the system was operating at a diminished capacity with several pumps and power turbines inactive. The news led to to the eventual retirement of several top S&WB officials, “ wrote the Advocate.
108 of the city’s 120 pumps are currently in working hour. They will be manned 24/7, and the National Guard has been called out to monitor the pumps
“The Louisiana National Guard will be monitoring pumps in the New Orleans drainage system for malfunctions and outages starting Friday morning,” according to NOLA.
They also said there will be about 15 guardsmen monitoring the pumps. Fourteen troops will work in teams of two to oversee the pumps and one guardsman will work as a supervisor. Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis, head of the Louisiana National Guard, shared this information in an interview on Thursday.
They will be on permanent duty until the storm hits. Once the storm hits, they will be pulled away to perform other tasks. They will go back to observing the pumps once the storm has passed.
"That's one of the reasons we are sending national guardsmen down there so that we know all the pumps are being monitored in real time with communications. So that in the event that corrective action needs to be taken on those pumps, it can happen as soon as possible," Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Curtis also noted the troops have been taught to catch malfunctions. If they notice something amiss, they will immediately contact a technician to fix it.
Even though three major pumps are out, Gov. Edwards seemed cautiously optimistic about New Orleans' preparedness for Tropical Storm Nate.
“We don't anticipate this is going to cause a devastating impact to New Orleans," he said.
The governor said New Orleans' drainage system should be able to handle the 3 to 6 inches of rain predicted from Nate. "The capacity there is better than it has been at any time this summer," he said.
He did, however, encourage all Louisiana residents to be prepared for the storm. He said they should be in the place where they intend to ride out the storm by “dusk on Saturday.” He added that they should be prepared for the storm to be stronger than current predictions indicate.
"There is no guarantee that it is only a Category 1 when it comes on land," the governor said. "Anybody who is taking this storm lightly is making a serious mistake."
Governor Rick Scott also declared a state of emergency for 29 northern counties of Florida.
“We have to take this seriously and get prepared now,” he said.
In other news, a Republican Congressman just announced his retiring immediately. His resignation comes amidst scandal.