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Blake Pontchartrain: the pumping station near Metairie Cemetery 

The project was completed in 2004, 15 months before Katrina

Hey Blake,

Please enlighten me about the pumping station near the Pontchartrain Expressway and Metairie Cemetery. As I recall, it was completed right before Hurricane Katrina but did little to prevent flooding there. Has it been repaired and is it in use?

Bob

Dear Bob,

  You are correct that the large pumping station at Pontchartrain Expressway and the Southern Railway bridge near Metairie Cemetery and Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home was completed in May 2004, about 15 months before Hurricane Katrina.

  During a heavy rainfall, the 60-foot-tall, four-pump drainage station is designed to move water from the surrounding 500-acre drainage basin into the 17th Street Canal. The pumping station, built by the state Department of Transportation and Development and operated by the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB), was part of a $32 million drainage project aimed at alleviating frequent flooding for which that highway underpass, which dips 14 feet below sea level, had become known. Two people drowned there during flooding in May 1995 and flooding closed that stretch of the interstate twice in 1998. The pumping station was no match for flooding from the levee failures following Hurricane Katrina, which made that stretch of I-10 impassable for several days.

  The area flooded again in December 2005 because power had not yet been restored to the facility. According to S&WB officials, that has been rectified and there is a backup power system in place — including power the S&WB generates for itself — to continue operations when there is a power failure. The board also positions workers to man the pumping station when rain events are forecast.

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