A 'mini-Katrina' flooded parts of New Orleans. - Grist


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weathering the storm

A ‘mini-Katrina’ flooded parts of New Orleans.

Nearly 10 inches of rain fell in one neighborhood on Saturday during a rainstorm so severe that it would occur less than once in 100 years, assuming a stable climate.

Eight of city’s major drainage pumps were not working during the event and the officials who originally claimed the canals and pumps had operated as expected are resigning*. Since much of New Orleans is below sea level, every inch of rainwater that falls has to be pumped to higher ground. A warming atmosphere can hold more water vapor, making deluges like this more common.

Throughout the city came stories of impromptu water rescues, traveling by canoe, and millions of dollars worth of damage. During the height of the flood, residents took refuge on porches and watched debris float by. Famous jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins floated beer by boat to help residents cope. It took more than 48 hours for the city to tow flooded cars in order to reopen access to Interstate 10. Recovery could take months in the hardest hit areas.

*This story was updated to reflect the news on city officials and broken pumps.