As Hurricane Barry approached, Mishelle Oster and her husband decided to be responsible and investigate the catch basins in front of their home just off Canal Street in Mid-City.
Oster describes what they found on a now viral Facebook post.
My husband decided to investigate our catch basins right off Canal St in Mid-City before Tropical Storm Barry arrives. According to NOLA’s Department of Public Works website, our catch basins are listed as “cleaned/inspected.” Once he popped the top off, it was filled to the brim with compacted mud and leaves. It even had a system of roots that had grown throughout all of it, tightening and compacting the mud. All 4 basins on our block were filled like this. There was no chance water could drain through to get to the drainage pumps underneath. If the city did actually inspect these basins as claimed, the basins certainly didn’t seem to have been properly cleaned anytime this year. The pumps can’t pump out the water if the water can’t even get into the pumps because of this issue.”
The post was accompanied by several photos showing the basin filled to the brim with compacted mud and debris.
According to Oster, though they removed what they could, the compacted dirt went down into the drainage system.
“He spent 2 hours digging out 2 basins on our street only to get to the bottom and not be able to continue once he got to the hole that feeds into the pump lines as it goes under the street at that point. Citizens are not equipped to clean into the lines under the street. It requires specific equipment from Public Works.
We are tired of hearing the claims about citizens’ trash or Mardi Gras beads clogging up the catch basins. There was very little trash in there as trash couldn’t even get into it with all the compacted mud and leaves. We all understand that the pumps are old, but without a citywide effort by Public Works to actually properly clean the catch basins, we would have the problem even with a new pump system.”
According to Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the city chose not to hand out sandbags to citizens because the sand has been found in the catch basins.
“What we have seen is the level of sand that ends up in our drains, it works against us, it works against the system that’s in place to drain the City of New Orleans,” Cantrell said at a press conference on Friday.
That statement drew ire from concerned commentors. Then, yesterday morning, a tweet by the Times Picayune/New Orleans Advocate reporter Jeff Adelson showing sandbags surrounding a Sewerage and Water Board station quickly went viral.
The city: We won’t be providing sandbags to residents because they could mess with S&WB’s drainage system
— Jeff Adelson (@jadelson) July 13, 2019
“We are tired of hearing the claims about citizens’ trash or Mardi Gras beads clogging up the catch basins,” Oster said.
“Enough is enough. The citizens pay/lose enough money year after year in flooded cars and houses, flood insurance, car insurance and damaged property. Simply cleaning the basins is not too much to ask as a citizen and home owner of New Orleans.”