NEW ORLEANS, LA – This afternoon, the City of New Orleans provided a comprehensive review of all City activities before, during and after Hurricane Isaac made landfall in southeast Louisiana.
“Isaac was a slow moving and unpredictable storm,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “The good news is that the $14.5 billion federal levee system held. Residents mostly heeded our warnings. We’re going to get out of the storm without loss of life or significant injury in New Orleans. And power has been restored to 99% of the city. The bad news is that we still have families without power, resources are strained, and the cleanup is going to take us some time.”
Mayor Landrieu continued, “There will be a long recovery for residents in neighborhoods outside the levee protection system, including those in Venetian Isles, Lake Catherine, Irish Bayou and Fort Pike. We have a team that has been dedicated to seeing that these citizens have the resources and support they need to rebuild. We will see their recovery through to the end.”
A summary of the storm related response by City departments and agencies follows:
OFFICE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
Mayor Landrieu declared a state of emergency on Sunday, August 26. The City of New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness immediately activated its Emergency Operations Center coordinating disaster response and recovery resources with 45 City, State, Federal and Non-Profit agencies to ensure effective and efficient response to Hurricane Isaac. Altogether over 150 personnel worked around the clock at the direction of Lt. Col. Jerry Sneed, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Homeland Security.
NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT (NOPD)
NOPD started to implement storm preparation plans days before Isaac’s arrival. On Tuesday, August 28, officers started to work12-hour shifts with 550-600 officers on each shift. All 8 police districts reported 100% attendance. Furthermore, NOPD was supported by 1,400 Louisiana National Guard troops who conducted stationary and roving patrols as well as security at the Point of Distribution locations, Emergency Shelter locations and Food Stamp distribution centers. Police received many tips from residents and thwarted numerous looting attempts, making 41 arrests for looting.
NEW ORLEANS FIRE DEPARTMENT (NOFD)
NOFD was all-hands-on deck during Isaac, with an average of 245 personnel on duty over each 24-hour period. NOFD personnel completed a windshield survey of the entire city (with the exception of Venetian Isles) by dusk on the evening after Isaac made landfall, inspected hospitals, nursing homes and other critical operations, identified blocked roadways and collapsed buildings (71), and reported findings to the proper city entities. NOFD also provided search and rescue operations for areas outside of levee protection last Thursday, bringing 7 residents to dry ground. There were 24 working fires during the storm period, about 4 times a normal time period. Two of those fires were candle-related and two were generator-related.
LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD
The Louisiana National Guard deployed up to 1,400 personnel to New Orleans in response to Hurricane Isaac. Louisiana National Guard soldiers were deployed to every NOPD District to assist in patrolling the city to protect people and property during the storm. Six Points of Distribution (POD) sites were set-up and operated in the city where citizens can pick up critical supplies, including water, ice and Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MREs). To date, the Louisiana National Guard has distributed 938,546 MREs (3 MREs per person); 1,407,916 bottles of water; 310,713 bags of ice; and 28,373 tarps. To date, 312,849 New Orleanians have been served. One POD site is still in operation in Venetian Isles.
NEW ORLEANS EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES (NOEMS)
NOEMS had 137 full and part-time EMTs and Paramedics on duty throughout the storm and received 1,455 emergency medical calls for service from Sunday, August 26 to Tuesday, September 4. Of these calls, 263 were handled by state mutual aid EMS ambulances. NOEMS handled 3 calls related to carbon monoxide poisoning with a total of 16 patients transported by NOEMS. A baby boy was delivered in the ambulance by a state EMS unit. NOEMS worked closely with Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo and the Health Department to triage and transport patients to the medical special needs shelter. NOEMS assisted in set up of the special needs shelter and stationed ambulances at all city shelters for emergencies. NOEMS assisted in troubleshooting nursing home/assisted living facility issues throughout the storm. These issues included: lack of oxygen, supplies, gasoline, and generator difficulties. NOEMS coordinated with local hospitals for capacity, capabilities, and transports throughout the storm.
ORLEANS PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE (OPSO)
OPSO facilities were fully staffed throughout storm. On Monday, August 27, OPSO transferred 1,037 inmates to State Department of Public Safety and Corrections facilities. Intake & Processing operated throughout the storm, and interacted with Magistrate Court to ensure first appearances. 1,064 inmates were transferred back to OPSO on Thursday, August 30.
The City of New Orleans Health Department moved into hurricane emergency mode on Sunday, August 26. 40 essential personnel worked an estimated 1,880 hours to: decommission clinical and service sites, staff a special hotline established for hurricane related information about health, staff the medical special needs shelter, and provide site visits to at risk elders and disabled people in the community. The Health Department staffed the EOC from August 27 until September 4. The Health Department successfully arranged transport for 57 high-risk, medically needy individuals to the medical special needs shelter in Baton Rouge and assisted them with return; stood up a Medical Special Needs Shelter at the Convention Center in partnership with the State, federal government and private partners to support 142 people, including patients and caregivers; and stood up two days of special Women Infants and Children services on August 31 and September 1. The City’s health hotline (658-2500) fielded 574 calls. Additionally, the Health Department worked with the Dialysis Network to help local residents access the 14 area dialysis centers immediately after the storm. The Health Department stood up the urgent Care Center in New Orleans Friday, August 31 that has served 60 patients to date. The Department also worked with the State and private sector to monitor the status of 8 area hospitals and 17 area nursing homes. Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo visited three nursing homes to assure safety, and visited 11 high rises or group homes housing an estimated 2,500 high risk elderly or disabled residents. Eighty clients were individually assessed. The Health Department returned to full normal operations Tuesday, September 4.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) performed for the first time as designed. Corps employees embedded in all local emergency operations centers before, during and after Hurricane Isaac to maintain open and transparent communication. Of the total 500+ HSDRRS openings, the Corps (with our partners) successfully closed all necessary navigable, roadway and railroad access and drainage openings prior to Hurricane Isaac's landfall. All major structures were operated including the following: Interim Closure Structures at the outfall canals (17th, Orleans, London), Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier, Seabrook Floodgate Complex, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex, and Harvey Sector Gate. The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lake Borgne Surge Barrier prevented the storm's 13.6 foot surge from entering the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal. Hurricane Katrina's peak surge at this location was 15.5 feet. At the London Avenue Outfall Canal, the water level at Lake Pontchartrain rose to 6.4 feet. The Interim Closure Structure at the mouth of the canal allowed the Corps and the Sewerage and Water Board to keep the water below the maximum operating level of five feet.
Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East (SLFPA-E)
SLFPA-E called over 100 employees to duty from Sunday, August 26 to Thursday, August 30, logging approximately 6,500 man-hours. In less than 36 hours from the first signs of Hurricane Isaac making landfall in southeast Louisiana, SLFPA-E closed over 140 gates throughout the entire system. SLFPA-E employed new technologies including text alert system, Levee Information Management System (LIMS). No problems were associated with Levee Protection System as it performed as designed and protected the city of New Orleans. The Orleans Levee District’s new Safehouse served as the Authorities’ EOC; had four Corps Employees imbedded with the Authority; housed approximately 85 employees, a crew of approximately 24 Louisiana National Guardsmen Tuesday night. During Hurricane Isaac, crews were dispatched to disprove rumors that London Ave Canal had breached, to get “eyes on” areas where gauges were reporting erroneous readings (particularly Orleans and 17th Street Canal gauges which showed dangerous water levels inside of the canals), and see if the Maxent Canal Levee was overtopping its banks which did not occur.
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – West (SLFPA-W)
SLFPA-W activated its command center on Sunday August 26 with a total of 47 staff members who remained for the duration and aftermath of the storm, representing 4,500 man hours. Prior to the storm, field personnel closed 124 gates, which were reopened as soon as conditions allowed. The majority of these structures provided a secondary line of defense for the West Bank and Vicinity System, which includes all of the City of New Orleans on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. The four main gates integral to our primary line of defense, including the Western Closure Complex, which protects Algiers and other areas of the West Bank, and features a 225 foot sector gate and the largest pump station in the world, were closed for 3 days. All structures operated as designed and there were no problems in coordinating interior pumping and drainage with the Sewerage and Water Board to the Western Closure Complex. On the Saturday and Sunday following the storm, SLFPA-W conducted a thorough Levee damage assessment inspection. Only very minor problems were discovered, which will be easily and quickly corrected. The safe house and command center operated 24 a day throughout the storm and its aftermath and housed over 50 staff members, contractors and personnel from other agencies. SLFPA-W was able to provide assistance to areas outside the HSDRRS. To date, 200 3,000 lbs. sand bags and hundreds of smaller sandbags have been provided to Lafitte. After the storm passed, 200 meals a day were provided for emergency response and cleanup crews and personnel in Lafitte and will continue to do so over the next several days. SLFPA-W has also been called upon to provide 1,000, 3,000 lbs. sand bags for Plaquemines Parish to close a breached levee, which is expected to wrap up tomorrow.
SEWERAGE & WATER BOARD (SWB)
SWB had 345 employees on duty during Hurricane Isaac. The SWB Telephone Center received 1,279 customer calls ranging from bill questions to fire hydrant issues to calls from customers in other parishes. During the storm, SWB operated 2 Potable Water Purification Plants, 2 Waste Water Treatment Plants, 24 Drainage Pumping Stations, 2 Power Generation Plants, 83 Sewerage Pumping and Lift Stations, and more than 100 miles of Power Transmission and Distribution Lines. SWB also provided support to Plaquemines Parish.
Deputy Mayor for Operations Michelle Thomas is leading a comprehensive, cross-sector coalition of city departments, private contractors and public and private sector partners to clear the city of debris left behind by Hurricane Isaac. Agencies participating in the clean-up include Parks and Parkways, Sanitation, Sewerage and Water Board, the Downtown Development District, city contractors, and the National Guard, creating an aggregate workforce of 50 crews made up of 501 personnel dedicated to the clean-up effort. To date, crews have hauled away nearly 10,000 cubic yards of debris and will complete the first pass of clearing debris of primary and secondary streets by Sunday, September 7. Regular garbage pickup resumed on Friday, August 31. It is currently 1-1 ½ days behind schedule because of the volume of garbage and debris. Please leave garbage curbside. City contractors are expected to fully catch up by the end of the day Sunday, September 9.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS (DPW)
Dozens of DPW employees were involved in Hurricane Isaac response and recovery operations including: towing flooded vehicles, cleaning drainage catch basins, securing fallen streetlights and traffic signal lights, assessing and repairing damage to traffic signals and traffic signs, supporting debris removal operations with equipment and operators, and making temporary repairs to streets. As of Tuesday, September 5, power has been restored to all 460 signalized intersections and damage assessments have been completed. To date, crews have repaired 204 of 247 damaged or downed signals and expect to complete remaining repairs by Friday. Crews have repaired 337 street signs, focusing first on safety related signage (stop signs, one way signs, turn signs, yield signs) and then on street name signs. Crews have picked up and secured 76 knocked down/leaning streetlights to date, and DPW estimates that it will take 3 weeks to complete a damage assessment of all of the street lights in the city. DPW also has deployed 3 vacuum trucks to clean out 140 catch basins and 16,850 feet of drain lines.
PROPERTY MANAGEMENT (PM)
Property Management entered into hurricane emergency mode Monday, August 27. Forty six essential personnel manned City Hall, the Criminal Court engine room, Municipal Traffic Court engine room and our uptown facilities site. PM’s EOCparticipation was fully activated the evening of Monday, August 27 through Friday, August 31. PM responded to and dispatched contractors to repair several HVAC related failures at NOPD headquarters, Civil Court, City Hall, and Criminal Court all due to electrical failures from power outages. PM dispatched work crews after the storm to clear the debris from the parking lots of City buildings and from the City cemeteries as well as remove all boarding from entrances and windows of City buildings. Property Management staff has performed 26 City building assessments with FEMA to determine the extent of storm damage. Storm related repair requests range from broken windows to roof damage at NOFD, NOPD, Court buildings and Multi-Purpose centers yielding totals in excess of 70-85 after storm repairs on which the department is making final assessments, gathering potential costs from vendors and scheduling the repair work.
The Capital Projects Administration, with the assistance of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, is continuing to perform preliminary damage assessments at City Buildings and Park Facilities. To date 208 of 225 sites have been visited, representing 92% of site assignments. Capital Projects is continuing to coordinate damage assessments with various City Departments (i.e. NORDC, NOFD, PM, etc.) to maximize man power, and gain knowledge of facilities and the recognition of Hurricane Isaac (post Katrina) damage. A significant amount of down high mast lighting poles and fencing have been reported at parks throughout the City. The public is encouraged to stay away from these structures. The City is coordinating with Entergy to address these conditions and engaging repairs as required.
REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY (RTA)
RTA entered into hurricane emergency mode on Monday, August 27 and began to implement its disaster action plan. The agency provided full service to residents of the City until 4 am the morning of Tuesday, August 28. On the morning of Thursday, August 30, RTA returned transit service on a limited basis while the agency began to assess and mitigate damages sustained to its facilities and assets. On Monday, September 3, the agency restored service to 100%. All bus and streetcar line service returns to its normal schedule on Thursday, September 6, 2012.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG NEW ORLEANS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
The Airport entered into hurricane emergency mode at 8 am on Monday, August 27. Fifty five essential personnel manned the airport along with 15 Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office officers. The staffing included: electricians, carpenters, mechanics, operations, dispatchers, central plant and IT. The Airport EOC was fully activated on Monday when wind speeds above 40 mph were eminent. The Airport maintained daily contact with its stakeholders including airlines, TSA, tenants and FAA via conference calls, face to face meetings, emails and cell calls. Airlines ceased operations with their last scheduled departures on Monday, August 27. The Airport lost commercial power at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, August 28 and was restored to the terminal at 4:00 pm on Thursday, August 30. The airfield was reopened at 7 pm on Thursday, August 30 after wind speeds subsided. Scheduled airline service resumed at 10:00 am on Friday, August 31. Full normal operations resumed by Saturday, September 1.
The Mayor’s Economic Development Office began making phone calls to local businesses on Monday, August 27 regarding Hurricane Isaac and business continuity plans. On Wednesday, Economic Development staff focused outreach to businesses critical to quick recovery -- grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and home repair stores -- about their plans to reopen and any issues that could expedite or inhibit openings. On Thursday, Economic Development began tracking all store openings and publishing a list of open businesses to the EOC, ready.nola.gov and the 311 system. From Thursday to Monday, Economic Development continuously monitored the activity of more than 100 businesses, and published updated lists of openings to EOC, ready.nola.gov and 311. Economic Development remained in constant communication with businesses regarding status and to troubleshoot on issues like loss of power, security, road access, impact of curfews, and shortages. By Tuesday, September 4, Economic Development had surveyed open businesses and identified that nearly all critical businesses were no longer operating on generator power, that supply levels were good and that the critical businesses had stabilized. Economic Development is now focused on identifying and communicating available business recovery resources for those impacted by the storm.
Homeless Services commenced preparation Monday, August, 27 with a meeting of all major shelters to ascertain capacity and coordinate outreach and shelter services that began that day. Outreach to homeless individuals and transport to shelters was conducted until the evening of Tuesday, August 28. The following organizations provided protection to homeless individuals and increased their capacity to accommodate during Hurricane Isaac: Covenant House, Ozanam Inn, New Orleans Mission, Salvation Army, Exodus House, St. Jude Community Center, and Bethel Colony Ministries. In total, 1,058 homeless individuals were served during this weather emergency. Most of the Shelters released individuals on Thursday, August 30 and monitoring continued throughout the weekend. The State of Louisiana’s Office of Community Development has deployed their Permanent Supportive Housing Team to the City of New Orleans’ Special Needs Shelter at the Convention Center to arrange Permanent Housing for disabled individuals who were displaced or left homeless by the storm.
NEW ORLEANS REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (NORA)/ CODE ENFORCEMENT
NORA reports that all 22 of the Katrina cottages are in good condition. They are all occupied and a few suffered minor damage to ceiling fans on the front porches. As of Tuesday, September 4’s report from the inspectors, 6 NORA properties have been identified as being in "imminent danger of collapse" as a result of Hurricane Isaac. These addresses have been forwarded to the City of New Orleans Code Enforcement Office to be further inspected. To date, 24 properties have been demolished that either collapsed or were in imminent danger of collapse. NORA has inspected its properties and will be demolishing another 78 properties due to damage. NORA is identifying suitable temporary housing to be made available per the Mayor's office and HUD's request. As of today, the 18 units are available. NORA-owned as well as development partner-owned properties are being identified. NORA's offices suffered minor water intrusion in the fourth floor conference room. The first floor retail space suffered one shattered glass door. The contractor has already cleaned the interior and exterior of the building and cleared any storm-related debris from the premises.
MOSQUITO AND TERMITE CONTROL
Mosquito and Termite Control resumed aggressive aerial and truck application programs targeting the “southern house mosquito” on Tuesday, September 4. Crews are applying larvicides to storm drains, non-functioning pools and fountains and areas with standing water.
FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA)
As of Tuesday, September 4, over 117,000 people in Louisiana have registered for federal individual assistance. FEMA is operating a mobile Disaster Recovery Center in Venetian Isles.
NEW ORLEANS HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM INDUSTRY
The majority of the city’s hospitality industry, mainly hotels, continued to operate during Isaac, taking care of the needs of visitors in town during the storm as well as resident who sought housing following the challenges of the weather. Reaching a high in occupancy of 98% over the weekend of Labor Day, the city’s hotels and restaurants, as well as attractions, continued to operate in face of power and service challenges. Many if not all were back on line by the end of the Labor Day weekend. The New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, in coordination with the New Orleans Marketing and Tourism Corporation, executed an emergency strategy that began well before Hurricane Isaac approached the city. A national public relations campaign has been launched to mitigate brand damage about the destination, clarify misperceptions about flooded areas, and preserve the tourism industry that creates 74,000 local jobs and drives the New Orleans economy. Convention and leisure sales teams have been in constant contact with customers, providing personal updates and positive information.
INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC
The City of New Orleans’ emergency information website, ready.nola.gov received a peak of 27,000 unique, external daily views. 311 received 29,000 calls since Monday, August 27. 311 registered an additional 1,500 residents for the City’s Citizen Assisted Evacuation Program (CAEP). During the weather event, 34 full-time agents and ITI staff were on duty in addition to a dozen volunteers. Social media was fully utilized with over 1,500 tweets were viewed through the City’s two Twitter handles: @nolaready and @mayorlandrieu. There were also dozens of posts on Facebook and YouTube. The City hosted 10 press conferences that were viewed by 16,000 individuals and issued 37 press releases.