Breaking News
More () »

Cantrell declares state of emergency amidst flooding, storms in New Orleans

At a press conference Wednesday, the mayor assured residents that New Orleans is ready for future flooding and street closures.

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell gave updates on the state of the city's flood defenses Wednesday afternoon after a severe storm hit the metro area, flooding streets and raising fears about the strength of the city's drainage system ahead of a predicted hurricane. 

Tropical Storm Barry formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday and meteorologists believe it will form and develop into a category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall Saturday. 

"It is still too soon to know what the impact will be, but we believe there will be an impact," she said. 

Cantrell said she has not made a decision whether to call for voluntary or mandatory evacuations, but said her administration would keep residents updated "as we get more information." 

"These events come fast, they come quick," she said. "Sheltering in place is what we're asking people to do." 

Sewerage & Water Board said 118 of the city's 120 pumps were working to remove floodwater. But several areas of the city experienced major flooding, with residents saying they have not seen water this high since Katrina.

In the interim hours before the next wave of severe weather hits New Orleans, city officials pleaded with residents to check catch basins near them and clean out any debris from Wednesday's storm. 

Cantrell brought forth a series of representatives from services ranging from the parish flood protection agency to New Orleans EMS. Each one said their agency was prepared for the weekend's weather. 

Many of the officials encouraged residents to stay inside and avoid driving, because any cars on the road could get trapped in high waters and flooded out. 

"We did not have to rescue anyone from their residences or their vehicles during this morning's heavy rains," New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said. "We are all asking our citizens to be safe and smart during situations like these." 

Gov. John Edwards declared a statewide state of emergency ahead of the tropical system, and said he expects several parishes to do the same.