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Gov. Edwards visits Treme as citizens lash out at council about floods

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Frustrated residents lashed out at council members as they learned more about what has gone wrong with the Sewerage and Water Board.

Many are still drying out and blame city leaders for not making upgrades to the crucial system.

In flooded portions of Treme where floodwater got as high as 30 inches in some homes Saturday, there's high anxiety, as residents learn of an underpowered pump system with more rain on the way.

"I want to hear how they are going to help. Everyone doesn't have a car. We poor in New Orleans," said Treme resident Robin Smith.

Edwards got the call at 1:30 a.m. that one of the city's two working pump turbines caught fire.

"Nobody every gets a good phone call after midnight," said Edwards.

Edwards declared a state of emergency for Orleans Parish and activated Homeland Security.

"While we have diminished capacity right now, work is progressing on turbine to repair it and get it in operation soon, but there's no guarantee when that will happen," said Edwards.

As Edwards visited Treme and the newly flooded but re-opened Willie Mae's restaurant, council members were bearing the brunt of citizen anger.

"We had 12 years to correct a problem that's been going on for 90 years, and now it's the blame game," said Kendall Trepagnier of New Orleans.

"This is trying times for the city," said Karl Washington of New Orleans

Deputy Mayor Jeff Hebert told council members that they are hiring a third-party investigator to determine what went wrong and where to go next. He also said they were working on early warning systems to send out more timely flood alerts.

"It will allow us to alert folks on the ground who can see it and send info back to the EOC, that this underpass is about to flood," said Hebert.

There was also much discussion on urban design, and ways to make the city better able to absorb water.

"Whether we encourage or require citizens to capture rainwater from their gutters, and collect it in barrels as it happens in other areas, to reduce the water that goes into streets," said Councilman Jason Williams.

Council members also learned that patient intake at the Odyssey House detox facility, the largest drug treatment facility in the state, is now shut down after a second flood in less than a month. All of their other facilities are still operating.

"Our detox averages 160 a month, and there's a huge waiting list, wrapped around the building because we are in the midst of an opioid crisis," said Lonnie Granier with Odyssey House.

There is no word on how long Odyssey House detox center will remain closed as the council looks into a drainage system which many fear is not up to any potential tropical storm, or heavy rainfall. The temporary detox center will be relocated to the Tonti St. facility on Monday.

Councilmembers are asking the Landrieu administration for ongoing updates on what went wrong.  The mayor's office says anyone doing drywall work will have to have a city permit, but they say the fees will be waived.

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