Corps of Engineers Update
We continue to see a gradual decrease in the water levels in and around New Orleans. There are sump pumps operating at Pump Station #6, Interstate 10, Pump Station #19, adjacent to Industrial Canal east of New Orleans. The estimate to dry out the city remains at up to 80 days. Some parts of the city will obviously dry out sooner than others, but a better assessment will be available in a few days.
Regarding questions of why all the pumps are not operating at this time: some pumps are still submerged in the city. Some overheated due to a debris intake problem. Plus, the pumps themselves and the electrical systems need to be dry to operate. The holdup in all pumps working lies in the fact that many are still being dried out. Some pumps feed to other pumps. We need all pumps operational in order not to overwhelm the system.
There was concern raised about where the water from Plaquemines Parish and St. Bernard Parish is being pumped to: The floodwater is not being drained to the port below New Orleans, instead it is draining to the Mississippi River area.
What about the human remains? Is the pumping system protected somehow so that the remains are not compromised? Will the bodies end up in Lake Pontchartrain?
The goal of the Corps of Engineers, as all involved in the operation, is to keep the debris from the pumps. In doing so, pumps will be monitored. Every effort will be made to protect the human remains. Grates are in place to protect the pumps.
John Rickey explains "Our primary focus is to recover remains."
Tom Waters states "We are being as diligent as possible to work with state and local government to preserve the remains with as much dignity and respect as possible."
As far as the problem with debris compromising the pump operational capacity, obviously the pumps will function more effectively with less debris. There are grates to hold off the large amounts of debris so the the pumps can do their job. Debris packed against the grates will close off the amount of water able to enter the pumps. Divers are sent down to check the pumps, when they are turned off.
It is difficult to say how much of New Orleans is still under water. Yesterday it was speculated at about 60 pecent but that level continues to drop. The breach at the Industrial Canal is currently being worked on. There is one small and one large breach. Hopefully they will be closed up by the weekend.