Interstate disrupted, cars abandoned as flash floods hit New Orleans

Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 10:22 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The heavy rain that moved into New Orleans on Monday afternoon (Sept. 4) flooded streets across the metro area and helped stall some vehicles in the middle of roadways.

For some, it was an expensive lesson learned on a rainy day in the city.

Delgado Community College student Andrew Sieta was on his way home when the rain started coming down hard. He says he saw the car in front of him clear the Canal Boulevard underpass.. But when he tried to drive through the rising water, his car only made it halfway.

“First, I kept pushing on the gas, because you don’t want the water to get in the exhaust and stuff,” Sieta said. “So, I put my car in neutral and I tried pushing it up the hill and the water just kept coming through the doors.”

A group of Sieta’s Delgado baseball teammates happened to be nearby. They came down the street to help the flooded car’s driver, not realizing at first that it was their friend.

“I was shocked. When I saw them, I was standing at the PJ’s (Coffee) over here. At that time, the car was fully flooded,” Sieta said. “I saw three of my teammates walk over here and they just supported me and asked if I was all right.”

Christian Wescott lives nearby. He was one of the first faces Sieta saw after the incident.

“Him and his dad sat out here for a while. He was soaked. He was cold. So, I think he went home to get changed and settle down a little bit,” Wescott said. “We live like a block over here on Canal and his dad told us to just give him a call when the water goes down.”

Kevin White and his son Jacob were getting ready to watch the Clemson-Duke game at their home near the underpass. White says flooding isn’t the only danger when it rains this hard.

“It’s another one of those things: When you see a street is flooded, slow down and take it easy. There’s some people who are able to pull their cars in their driveways, and a lot of people that have to stay in the street,” White said. “So, just some common courtesy, (remember) that people live on the streets that flooded that you drive on.”

Heavy rain prompts localized street flooding in New Orleans

The Sewerage and Water Board reported rainfall totals over 7 inches in the City Park area. Interstate 10 briefly shut down near the Metairie Road exit when two pumps at a drainage station nearby tripped offline.

Over in Lakeview, Addison Wenck says flooded streets are expected in her neighborhood.

“This is what normally happens in Lakeview, even when there’s a little bit of rainfall,” Wench said. “It all just backs up really bad.”

Wenck says she’s frustrated that the city hasn’t found a solution to prevent the streets from being swallowed in the rain.

“I mean, you pay taxes for no reason,” she said. “It’s just, like, look at this. Where’s our money going? Fix the drains and also save people’s cars while you’re doing it.”

The Sewerage and Water Board says its drainage system can handle 1 inch of rain per hour and a half-inch of rain each hour after that.

That means 3 inches of rain can take up to five hours to drain across the city.

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