Friday, August 18, 2006
Who needs water when you have Mardi Gras?
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The most-devastated section of the Lower Ninth Ward, a poor area that was torn apart by Hurricane Katrina and floodwaters, is still without drinking water nearly a year after the storm.
Following a meeting between residents and the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board on Thursday, community activists said there is no indication of when the problem will be solved.
“That was an utter waste of my time,” ACORN organizer Tanya Harris said moments after the meeting. “I wasn’t given any clear timeline, a damage assessment, a partial damage assessment, nothing concrete.”
Because of the extreme devastation in the area, crews have been unable to open major valves that would move water and reveal pipe leaks, said Tommie Vassel, the board’s president pro tempore.
Repairs also have been slow because it took weeks to pump the area dry after Katrina on Aug. 29 and again after Hurricane Rita on Sept. 24, Vassel said.
After the water was drained, much of the area was off-limits after lawsuits were filed to stop demolition of ruined houses. Now that homes are being razed, demolition crews have torn more pipes from the ground, contributing to the difficulty of pinpointing infrastructure problems, Vassel said.
Harris said the board told residents that crews have been working seven days a week in some sections to repair pipes, but she had never seen any workers while visiting her neighborhood daily.
Harris also was critical of the S&WB spending almost $200,000 to install underground leak-detection devices in the French Quarter, the Central Business District and the Warehouse District while work has lagged in the Lower Ninth Ward
“I understand that those areas are important to our city, but we are important to our city,” Harris said. “We are important people, and we count.”