Aug 30, 2021
New Orleans Officials Hurricane Ida Press Conference Transcript August 30
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other officials held a press conference on Hurricane Ida on August 30, 2021. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.
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Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (00:01)
It did not happen. We did not have another Katrina and that’s something, again, we should all be grateful for. However, the impact is absolutely significant. While we held the line, no doubt about that. Now is not the time for re-entry. And I’m just wanting to put that out there to our residents who did heed our warnings, took our advice and evacuated the city. But now it’s not the time for re-entry. We’ll tell you a little bit more as we move through this press conference.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (00:48)
Today is going to be a day for assessments across the board. We are only at the beginning of that process determining what the actual impacts have been across the city of New Orleans. City agencies have been out since daybreak. They’re going block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. No one will be left out. No one has been left out. NOPD began making checks last night and transmitting that information to our Orleans Parish Communication District, who is the receiver of that info and ensures that our departments gets the necessary information and the data to respond accordingly. But this is how we collect our data as it relates to the full extent of the impacts to the city of New Orleans. Again, block by block neighborhood by neighborhood.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (01:58)
We must absolutely address all of our challenges and we will, and we did, and we do have some. Currently as you know, we lost power citywide. We have Ms. Deanna Rodriguez, the CEO of Entergy who will speak to that issue, but it is a challenge that, again, we will address and we will get through it as partners do. The sewage and water board were impacted by those challenges. But at the end of the day, held the line, did what we needed, our systems, our utility, what we needed our utility to do. Again, held that line.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (02:47)
We did not experience any widespread structural destruction. We’re still assessing, but from our assessments thus far this remains a fact. Of course, we had some buildings collapsed. We had some fires and the like, but I’m talking about extensive damages in terms of destruction. So far, we have not had reports of massive loss of life, but we did have tragedy. And one is too many. More details on that will come as we’re able to thoroughly assess and particularly the coroner’s office. But we do know that it was a tragedy where we believe an individual was driving a car and therefore drown. Again, that information will become official through our coroner’s office.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (03:42)
One is still too many. The systems, again, we depended on to save lives and protect our city did just that and we are grateful. But there is so much more work to be done and that’s why now is not the time for re-entry into the city of New Orleans, especially as we determined how the city may need to respond to the needs of our surrounding parishes as well. We will be a neighbor and we will be a good neighbor in spite of the challenges that we have.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (04:21)
Again, if you evacuated, we’re asking you to stay where you are. We will notify you as soon as possible when it’s safe for you to come home. And this is mainly associated with a lack of power sources in our city and throughout the city. Residents that are here now in the city of New Orleans and visitors, we need you to be careful. We need you to stay in your homes, stay in your neighborhoods. Now you’ve heard me say many times the residents are first responders amongst themselves in their neighborhood. We’ll be working closely with our New Orleans City Council members side by side addressing district-wide and neighborhood issues in terms of how we can respond in real-time and as best as possible where you are in the neighborhoods that you are that you are in.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (05:23)
Neighborhood leaders, we know who you are. You know us as well. Reach out if you can. We know that, again, communications have been compromised. But one thing that we also recognize is that we still have the ability to send text messages. AT&T and Entergy are doing everything that they can. Sonia Perez, the president of AT&T, we’ve been in direct communication, they’re boots on the ground, and they’re going to help us in the meantime stand up remote for cell phone charging and the like. But again, more to come. I believe this time is going to be best for us to pivot to those assets in neighborhoods. But again, more to come. We’re planning this out now.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (06:12)
We were also planning for in the event we should need to stand up a post-disaster evacuation. Doesn’t look like that is something that we have to do at this time, but we had to make sure we planned accordingly to therefore face the challenges in order to address the needs of our people. As I mentioned, our people in our city, our residents need to stay put. Again, power and communication are critical issues and you are going to hear again more from Entergy as well as AT&T. Nothing has a quick fix, but what I also understand in terms of power and you’ll hear a little bit more. We are not in the same situation as we saw our brothers and sisters in as relates to Lake Charles relative to power sources.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (07:04)
But boots on the ground with Entergy, Ms. Rodriguez will give you more. While the power is down and we are dependent on generators. I’m calling all of our people and businesses that have the capacity in the city to be good neighbors as I know you will be. Now I have heard a little rumors and we’re going to fact check about people being displaced from hotels. We’re going to follow-up with that after this press conference, I just got that information actually prior to coming out. So I don’t have any official responses for you relative to that.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (07:43)
It could be associated with their lack of power or generation capacity. We don’t know, but for the businesses that we know or they know have the capacity to provide some source of power to the community, we ask for you to notify the city again and be good neighbors. Share the power you have, open your businesses for the people to recharge their devices as well as meet their ongoing needs. That’s how we’re going to get through this. No doubt about it. That’s how we got through it even in the aftermath of Katrina. Neighbor to neighbor, shoulder to shoulder working in partnership.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (08:27)
I’m proud of our city. I’m proud of our people, the resiliency, it shine through the darkness that Ida brought our way, but we are going to continue to be the light in the city of New Orleans. And we’re going to shine brighter than we’ve ever shined before because we’ve proven our ability to be prepared. We’ve proven our ability to hold the line. And I want to thank the federal government, the president, President Biden who I will have to leave here about 12: 30 to take that call. But the federal government’s response was right on. Having a declaration granted in the middle of the night, spot on. That’s something that we should be grateful for.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (09:14)
More information will come to you about that federal declaration that therefore drives the response of FEMA. We’re going to make sure that that information is not only shared, but in partners in terms of our media, you’re partners in this. And as partners, we’re going to make sure that we communicate effectively to our people so that they can respond the way that we need them to as it relates to getting information, but also accessing resources like FEMA.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (09:48)
So what I’m going to do right now, I’m going to turn it over to Collin Arnold as you know who serves as our Director of Homeland Security. We’re going to run through many different speakers that are essential to this response. We also have our council members who are standing with us. We’re going to move through. And I’ll take Q&A afterwards, but you know how this works, but thank you all so much for your partnership. Thank you all so much for your response and your commitment and dedication. Collin Arnold.
Collin Arnold: (10:24)
Thanks. Mayor. Thank you, Madam Mayor. Good morning, good afternoon. As you know, Hurricane Ida moved out of our area earliest morning after sitting over New Orleans for really a day. We have significant impacts in the city, but I want to take a moment to recognize how well we fared given our circumstances. And to let the neighbors to our west who have seen far more widespread and serious impacts that that our thoughts are with you.
Collin Arnold: (10:54)
Our levee system operated without incident. 911 remains out of service. Tyrrell, will cover that a little bit more. It’s out throughout the region and all of our parishes without power. And you’ll hear more about that from Entergy. This is still an extremely hazardous situation. Starting very early this morning when it was safe to do so, public safety personnel from police, fire, and EMS started assessing damage across the city. And we know that there is widespread debris blocking roadways and many damaged and destroyed structures. There are many trees and limbs down and many down power lines.
Collin Arnold: (11:33)
I want to say at this time for residents in your homes realizing right now, connectivity’s an issue, battery life is an issue. If it’s safe to do so, I would suggest you get pictures, right? And you may not be able to do what I’m about to tell you, but you’ll have the pictures in your phone. You can go to at any time, damage.la.gov, damage.la.gov and you can enter in those photos and document that damage. And this will be incredibly helpful to us, to the state of Louisiana and to eventually when these types of assistance programs open to the federal government, it can all be tracked from that site.
Collin Arnold: (12:10)
It’s not your application. It’s not anything like that, but it’s a good start. And again, that’s damage.la.gov realizing that it may be a little bit before you get connectivity or you can charge your battery, but have those ready to go. And only do that if it’s safe. Just because the weather has passed, obviously that does not guarantee that it’s safe to be out and walking around. We ask you to remain home near your home, remain off the roads.
Collin Arnold: (12:36)
As the mayor mentioned and I really want to stress this. If you evacuated from the city, take a breath. We’re doing good here. We’re doing well. Okay? Under the circumstances, but it’s not the time to return. There is damage, mainly debris in the streets. There’s power. I want to be completely real with you. There’s not a lot open right now. There’s not a lot of fuel resources. There’s not a lot of reason to come back and I want to add with COVID. If you get hurt while you’re here from-
Collin Arnold: (13:03)
… add with COVID. If you get hurt while you’re here from debris or from anything or you have some sort of medical issue because it’s going to start getting warm again this week, hospitals are strained right now. So it’s just not a good time if you’re out of the area to come back in, and we’re going to let you know when it is, okay? Our EOC upstairs, emergency operations center, still activated. Everybody’s still up there. We’re really transitioning into this kind of situational awareness and damage assessment where we’re trying to get our arms wrapped around the complete content of what is out there right now and what we need to address. The health department, the fire department and the Louisiana Department of Health, our partners are working with residents who have power dependency for medical reasons. As part of this initiative, we’re opening an oxygen exchange across the city where residents who are on oxygen can swap out tanks for a full tank free of charge.
Collin Arnold: (13:55)
The locations will be open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. They are at fire stations. Fire station number 1, 2920 Magazine, fire station number 36 at 5403 Reed Boulevard, and fire station number 40 at 2500 General de Gaulle, okay? If you have an oxygen need and can’t get to these sites or have any kind of issues, call our special needs registry at 504-658-2558. That’s 504-658-2558. As I mentioned, with the Damage.LA.Gov, which is just a terrific resource, we’re working with our state and federal partners, getting that initial ball rolling with damage assessment and working towards those assistance programs that are so vital to our recovery. And there will be much more information about that. We have a number of organizations and individuals who want to help and efforts, volunteers, donations. Love it, appreciate it very much. Well, we’re right in the beginning of this, okay?
Collin Arnold: (15:01)
We want to make sure that this is coordinated. So the best way to help in the immediate aftermath, what’s going on right now is to donate money to organizations that are on the ground assisting. And we have a list of those at ready.nola.gov. Please utilize that as a first resource in trying to help us here, and it’s greatly appreciated. Understand that we’re still in response mode right now. And so donations and all these things, they’re great. We’re going to be coordinating those donations we ask you. Let us take a breath, let us really get moving on where we need to be. We’ll provide more information again at ready.nola.gov. For updates, text NOLAREADY to 77295. Follow us at NOLA Ready, and I’ll say it one more time, ready.nola.gov and Damage.LA.Gov. It will help us out. It will help you out. Thank you.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (15:53)
Thank you, Colin, very much. And we’re going to keep it going. Ramsey Green, who was our deputy CEO of infrastructure.
Ramsey Green: (16:04)
Thank you so much, mayor. Thanks folks for being here. Today is a very different outcome than the day after Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago. Largely homes are not flooded, businesses are not flooded. The [inaudible 00:16:15] system did what it was supposed to do and largely our joint infrastructure work did what it was supposed to do when a storm like this came, and that should give our residents whether they’re here or elsewhere a moment to just acknowledge what that means. That this city, as the mayor said, really held the line we are assessing and that assessment started very early this morning before daybreak. What we’re seeing is debris all over the city, debris everywhere. If you imagine debris, it’s there. Trees, newspaper boxes, stuff blown over, awnings, roofs, shingles, power lines that are down. Stay home. But if you want to start working on your home and you want to put debris together, put it on the side of the roadway.
Ramsey Green: (17:04)
We have debris contractors who are assessing for eventual mobilization later this week. But again, we are assessing all of our operations at this moment. There are throughout the city small pockets of standing water. The reason for that is because there is so much debris out there that it is blocking our drainage catch basins or clogging our subsurface drainage lines. That is what we are seeing. The system, and Ghassan will cover this a little bit more, but the sewage and waterboard system is where it should be in terms of drainage. What we believe are those pockets of flooding need to be cleared and that’s what we’re focused on at this moment. At this moment, our infrastructure operations are focused on public rights of way, clearing them, making sure that we have public safety, that Entergy and its contractors can navigate around and our infrastructure operations can move. But we will be clearing those pockets where that standing water sits.
Ramsey Green: (18:03)
We have a contract underway to bring in an additional 20 back trucks to clear those drain lines as well. Additionally, generator safety. If you are at home and you are touching a generator, working on it, be safe, follow the rules. We’ve seen in the last few years several people get very hurt touching generators, working with generators. Be very safe within their complex tools. And then finally, again, this is a massive effort of clearing debris. This is unlike Zeta, this is unlike many of the storms we’ve seen because it is all over the city and everywhere. It’s going to take some time. It’s going to take time to assess our overarching infrastructure, including power, including public right to way and debris, but it’s going to take time to clear it as well. Patients. The city is in terms of infrastructure. We just need some time to assess and clear it. Thank you so much.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (19:06)
Thank you so much, Ramsey. And we’re going to keep it moving with information from Chief Sean Ferguson.
Chief Sean F.: (19:16)
Thank you, mayor. Good afternoon everyone. I just want to take this moment to reiterate what the mayor has said and what Colin has sent as well as what Ramsey said. Now is not the time to return home. If you are at home, please remain at home. If you have to come, I’m asking you to only come out either to clean up your debris, or if you’re planning to relocate to another place, meaning evacuating now post on. That is fine, but we’re asking you to please, please stay out of the street. We do have standing water. We have assessed this. We’ve also seen tree obstructions. We’ve also seen down power lines as well as trees. So we’re asking you to not put yourself in harm’s way, which would then put out public safety team in harm’s way. We as the police department remain on 12 hour shifts, all hands on deck.
Chief Sean F.: (20:08)
We have not had any issues with any of our officers reporting to duty or at least having the knowledge availability to knowing where they are. We have received numerous calls of looting and as such, we have made several arrests. We will get you that information later, but this will not be tolerated. I said this yesterday, I will say it today and I will say it tomorrow, this will not be tolerated. We have made those arrests. This is a state felony and we will be booking you accordingly. This is not the time to take opportunities of our vulnerable population right now, which we all are vulnerable at this point in time. So again, we encourage you to stay where you are, know that we as the police department will continue to do our due diligence to protect and serve our city, while we are working along with our Louisiana National Guard to implement our anti-looting deployment to ensure that everyone’s life as well as their property is safe. Thank you.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (21:08)
Thank you, chief, very much. And I’m going to ask Tyrell Morris, who is our executive director of the communications district.
Tyrell Morris: (21:15)
Thank you, mayor. Good afternoon everyone. As the mayor emphasized, it’s not quite safe for those who left the city to return primarily because our 911 infrastructure right now is not operable. It’s not just New Orleans, but the Southern parishes in the state of Louisiana are experiencing an issue. What this means is that our selective routing service that’s responsible for routing the 911 calls to the particular 911 centers has suffered some significant damage to the physical infrastructure. Our partners at AT&T are working around the clock to diagnose and recover those services. And once those repairs have been made, we will bring the system back online. But until that point, it is not safe for those who have left the city to return. If you do have an emergency though, all the fire stations across the city have raised their bays. You can walk to any firehouse or flag down any police officer.
Tyrell Morris: (22:05)
We also soon will be announcing an alternative way to text 911. We do know that text message services are more reliable right now than phone service in the city of New Orleans. And so we are retooling and re-imagining what that experience is on the dime. So give us a couple of hours before we give the public some instructions on how to engage 911 from a text message perspective. As Ramsey and the mayor said, it’s an opportunity for our business community to be good neighbors. So as of right now, in this moment, actually 30 seconds ago, if you go to nola.gov/311, you enter a service request that says Hurricane Ida, there’s an option. If you’re a business owner and you would like to list your business as a place for the public to come charge their devices, you can go and register right now. We will pass that information to NOLA Ready and get it live so the public can have that information.
Tyrell Morris: (22:53)
That’s just an example of how this leadership team and this administration is leaving no stone unturned to meet the needs of our people, but as a reminder, 911 is down. We do believe that it will be restored soon. We’re working around the clock to get the services restored. But if you do have an emergency, go to any firehouse, flag down a police officer, or soon you will have the ability to text 911 to an alternative number and we’ll release those details shortly. Thank you.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (23:17)
Thank you, Tyrell. We’re going to have Ms. Deanna Rodriguez, the presidency of Entergy.
Ms. Deanna R.: (23:23)
Hi. Good afternoon everyone. As you know that we’re out of power in city of New Orleans. There are eight transmission lines that feed the power to the city of New Orleans that have sustained damage. The catastrophic damage of the storm that hung over west of here caused a lot of damage to the transmission lines that feed New Orleans. As of 7:00 AM, not just in New Orleans, but around the region, we had 888,000 power outages. It is affecting several surrounding parishes and we have a number of substation transmission lines and more than 2,000 miles of transmission lines are out of service. So I want to emphasize that it is not just New Orleans, it is the surrounding area and so Entergy is working to address that immediately. We have about 4,500 boots on the ground in New Orleans currently here to do the damage assessment. That is the next part of post-storm, right?
Ms. Deanna R.: (24:29)
We prepped for the storm. We prepared and we are now having people come in to help us do the damage assessment. They went out at first light this morning and they are going where it is safe to go. They will help us get a better idea of what we’re dealing with and it would be premature for me to speculate this time when power will be restored. I know that’s your number one question, but until we can collect the damage assessment, we can’t give you that answer just yet. So I apologize. By end of day, we’ll know more. By tomorrow, we’ll know more. So we’re asking our customers to be patient. In the meantime, you’re hearing from a lot of the folks, the mayor and the chief of police that spoke before me that are talking about when people, when our residents should return. And I would suggest that if you have not signed up for texts with Entergy, to go to our intergy.com website and make sure you sign up for texts.
Ms. Deanna R.: (25:32)
So if you are staying out of town and if you’re away, we don’t want you to come back for a whole host of reasons, but one, because it’s hot and you won’t have power. So we’d like to let you know by text when we’ll be able to restore power to your residence. So it’s important that you do that. I guess the other thing I wanted to mention too is that, again, since it’s not just a New Orleans problem, we have 21,000 additional crews and resources and that number is growing, and they are-
Ms. Deanna R.: (26:03)
… crews and resources, and that number is growing in Louisiana and the entire state of Louisiana, and they are focusing primarily on transmission to begin with. So they are helping us right now do damage assessment. And then when they can, if they can, restore power. They are doing that as well. All of this is happening simultaneously. So we have our transmission system, our generation system, and our distribution system. Our distribution system is also being evaluated currently, and so when we have power, we will also have that ready for people to take power when they can.
Ms. Deanna R.: (26:39)
I also want to mention our supportive Sewage and Water Board. We have helped them get some backup generators. We know they need to stay, and they’re doing a good job. And they’re working so we need to help them stay providing services to the city. We’re happy to partner with them on that. And we hope that we can, as soon as we get power, they will be a priority customer and so we’ll be able to assure them and assure the mayor and the city residents that they’ll have our backup. That’s all I have pending any questions. Thank you.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (27:13)
Thank you, Deanna, and we’re going to keep it moving. I’m going to ask our Director of the Sewage and Water Board, Ghassan Korban, to come forward. He’ll give you an update and also reveal challenges that we consistently have.
Ghassan Korban: (27:25)
Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks, Mayor. So last night, or last 24 hours, the Sewage and Water Board and the city faced a category four hurricane and eight to 10 inches of rain and our turbines collectively carried out the day. We had T4, we had T5, T6, and our EMDs collectively working together to manage draining eight to 10 inches of rain last night. We’re also relying on now is to maintain drinking water pumping into the city. As of today, we had really one issue to report to you. We’ve had some challenges that we managed throughout the night and throughout this morning, but as of today, we still have an issue with one pumping station, which is DPS 13 on the West Bank and I made the commitment to the Mayor and Councilwoman Palmer that we’re going to stay on that issue until we solve it. And what we’re facing there is that when we lost power to Entergy, we stood up our backup power, our generator, which performed for a while, and then that died on us, and we are in the midst of assessing and repairing it.
Ghassan Korban: (28:46)
We could be repairing it as we speak. I just don’t have an actual accurate report to share with you other than we’re working on it. When it comes to, again, what Ramsey talked about, assessing what is going on in your neighborhood, what we rely on is the level of canals to know that we are maintaining an operation that is designed to drain the city, drain every street. So if there’s any water that is standing now, just like Ramsey said, you have to report it and then we’ll collectively, between DPW and Sewage and Water Board, we’re going to look at it, and then we’re going to address it in the best way we can. And it could be a [inaudible 00:29:31] that’s clogged. It could be something else, but we will address it together. I’d like to give you a report on our sewer pumping stations. We have 84 pumping stations that all are powered by Entergy. As you know, as of last night, we lost power to about 80 of those. We continue to assess further on that front.
Ghassan Korban: (29:54)
Obviously, we’re going to make it a priority. We’re working with Entergy, which availed to us about 10 generators that we’re going to mobilize along with about a handful of generators that we have on hand to selectively find the key pumping stations that we need to operate. And we’re going to continue to work with our partners at [inaudible 00:30:16] to find more generators as long we don’t have energy power to power those pumping stations with the backup generators. And just so people understand, wastewater leaves your house through gravity and it hits a pumping station, and without that pumping station working, that wastewater just backs up and could cause obviously overflows. So that’s why we’re asking for thoughtful and limited usage of water the best you can. In terms of water purification and drinking water, we just want to share with you that last night and we continue to experience a spike in consumption on the East Bank to the tune of about 35 million gallons, so it moves us from about 110 to about 145 million gallons a day.
Ghassan Korban: (31:08)
We are keeping up. We are producing that water. We do not know why the spike is there. We don’t suspect its usage. We think it’s elsewhere. It could be water main breaks that have not been identified or reported. So we’re continuing to watch that. Other than that, we have no pressure issues, no water quality issues, so we’re very, very happy to report that. And then one last thing I wanted to share for sake of our customers. We’re having issues with our server, with our computers, and our 52 water customer service line is not working. So I apologize in advance to our customers we are not able to take your calls. We’re working very hard on fixing that issue as soon as we can so we can obviously respond to any of your needs. Thank you very much.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (31:57)
Speaker 1: (31:59)
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (31:59)
Yes, she does. Yes, and I’m just about to do that. Thank you very much. It takes a village to keep me straight. And I appreciate that. So I’m going to ask Kelly to come up as well from our Flood Protection Authority.
Thank you, Mayor. The first thing I want to say is thank you. Many of you probably don’t know, but it takes hundreds of men and women on a daily basis to operate and maintain the flood defense system around this region. They work every day thinking about Hurricane Katrina and wanting to never ever repeat that again. And we had a storm that was challenging. It was an intense storm and the levy systems functioned as designed. And so I just want to thank those men and women that do that every day. I also want to thank our partners, Mayor and her team, the core, CPRA, the West Authorities, and all of our other local authorities. We were in constant communication throughout this event, Sewage and Water Board, constant communication throughout the event. They were great partners to us. They provided resources to us and guidance to us. And so I just want to thank them for that partnership.
As has been said before, there was no breaching or overtopping of the levy system. All of the components performed as designed. The surge barrier opened this morning, which was going to allow maritime traffic through a major shipping channel, the GIWW. Hopefully to resume soon. The lake continues to be high. We’re waiting for the lake to drain to open our Seabrook Complex structure and that way can drain the lake even further. Our PCCP operations, which is our pump stations at the outfall canals, continue to operate in coordination with Sewage and Water Board. We are now in recovery mode and I’ve said oftentimes that we start preparing for a storm the day after the last one ended, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do today. So as soon as the red [inaudible 00:34:04] go down, we’re going to get out, start doing damage assessments, inspecting the levies. We inspect it from one end of the other boots on the ground and determine any damages, make plans to repair those damages, and prepare for the next storm.
As soon as we also assess those damages, we will have more information as to when we can open the gates across the major roadways so that citizens can reenter the city when it’s safe to do so. Please continue to listen to your local and state officials when it’s safe to resume entering into the city. Thank you.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (34:37)
Thank you so much, Kelly. Now I know that it is very important as we focus on the recovery of our city to also embrace the leadership that is on the ground that serves at the district council level. It’s going to be very important that we formalize an even stronger partnership. I know that I have several council members who are here with me this afternoon. Council members, I would ask you to come up and be concise, but I definitely don’t want to overlook your messaging for the community that I know is depending up on you as well. So with that, I’ll start with Councilman Banks, and we’ll go from B, C, and D, if you don’t mind.
Chief Sean F.: (35:25)
Well, thank you, Madam Mayor. Hurricane Ida may very well be a different tune, but this is a dance that we’ve all done before so we know what to do, and I want to emphasize that you all are in the best possible hands. If you’re going to be stuck in a natural disaster, there is no place better to be stuck than in New Orleans, because you’ve got a seasoned team, an experienced team of professionals that are accustomed to doing this that unfortunately get to rehearse it several times a year every year. So if you’ve got to be somewhere you’re in the best place, and these folks are going to be intentional in making sure that you have all the information that you need to make sure you’re safe.
Chief Sean F.: (36:11)
Now, the citizens’ and the visitors’ responsibility is to listen to the directives given, please stay off the streets. Please listen to the warnings, and please get your information from reputable sources. With all due respect to Facebook, that’s probably not the best place to get the information. The official city sites, the news stations, those places are much better to get the information that’s going to be shared to keep each of you safe. We are going to get through this just like we have gotten through this too many times to count. This one is bad, but we’ve been through bad before, and we will get through this together. Thank you.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (36:49)
Thank you. Council Member.
Speaker 2: (36:53)
Thank you. Thank you, Mayor. I just want to appreciate and thank the administration and all the department heads behind us who have kept the council totally up-to-date throughout all the briefings throughout this effort. So thank you very much. With that being said, we have rebuilt this city, the residents, and part of that was because of personal responsibility and civic duty. And part of that is to ensure that we’re listening to the administration and the people on the street and what has to be done. We’ve already heard we have a stressed system. We should not put more stress on this system by going out right now. Especially with folks in Algiers, we have standing water, General De Gaulle, Wall Boulevard, MacArthur, and some of our neighborhoods such as Tall Timbers. We know that SWB has crews working around the clock at pump station 13, but there is no reason for people to be on the streets in Algiers right now. And we have to show support to our neighbors.
Speaker 2: (37:44)
I’m also asking folks to check on their neighbor, especially our elderly and our folks that might be disabled within our neighborhoods, to make sure that they are safe and they also have everything that they need. So, again, I just want to thank especially all the men and women that have been working with the city of New Orleans and all the departments that have been out there 24/7. So please show support by listening and staying home. Thank you.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (38:05)
Thank you, Council Member. Councilor.
Jared C. Brosset: (38:09)
Good afternoon, and thank you, Mayor. Thank you and your administration and all of government, partnership, leadership team that’s gathered here today. As it’s been said, look, we’ve been here before. No city has gone through as many storms, fires, and whatever else we’ve gone through over our city’s 300 year history. We know what needs to be done and that’s prioritizing our city’s safety, our thoroughfares to go back to our way of living. And we are focusing on our streets so they are safe for us to move around. And, of course, power restoration. My team and I had a chance to go out into the District D and C-
Jared C. Brosset: (39:02)
… chance to go out into the District D and see the many trees that are down. But the glimmer of hope is many neighbors was out on their front lawns, cleaning up. Cleaning up as safely as they can right now, putting debris… Sliding to the curb. And much of the debris that I seen throughout along Gentilly Boulevard looks like it’s already ready to be picked up. And so we know how to take care of each other. That’s the spirit of the people who we are, and I ask you just to stay safe, listen to our local officials, and we’ll get through just believing in each other and step-by-step, shoulder by shoulder. Thank you, Mayor.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (39:49)
Thank you so much, Councilman. So we will take some brief questions at this time.
Speaker 3: (39:53)
Yes, ma’am. WGNO.
Speaker 4: (39:54)
I would like to ask Ms. Rodriguez with Entergy if I could?
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (39:59)
Speaker 4: (40:01)
I wanted to ask, you talked about damages to [inaudible 00:40:06] right?
Ms. Deanna R.: (40:07)
Speaker 4: (40:15)
Can you just tell me a little bit more about the cost of damages [inaudible 00:40:16] what specifically is vulnerable? Is it comparable to [inaudible 00:40:16]
Ms. Deanna R.: (40:16)
We don’t know yet. That’s why we’re doing today’s assessment. And the assessment will take a little while. So, of those eight, we don’t know if one is severely damaged, it could be minor damage that would allow us to get that fixed more quickly. I don’t have a good answer for you yet.
Speaker 4: (40:37)
I just have a follow up, I know you said you don’t have a timeline, but is it looking like weeks, now people expect weeks or days? Is there anything that you can give us-
Ms. Deanna R.: (40:46)
I think we can answer that better once we have completed the assessment or at least get further into the assessment. We started it at daybreak this morning. We’re just now starting and you’ve heard from others that it’s going to be a little bit in even trying to get out there. We are moving helicopters in order to do some of the assessment, we’re bringing in helicopters, we’re utilizing drones, we’re using other technology to make sure that if we can’t do it as a person, because some of this is a hard to get to and it’s a large footprint that we’re talking about, we’re using all kinds of technology in order to do this as quickly and as safely as possible.
Speaker 3: (41:25)
Speaker 5: (41:27)
I’ve got a question for the police chief. Talk about the looting. How wide spread is that in the city and what should business owners be doing?
Chief Sean F.: (41:41)
I mean, we see it widespread in various neighborhoods in which we’ve been able to identify where these looters have targeted, no specific area. We are asking our business owners to target-harden themselves, but we’re not going to just leave it upon them. It’s our duty, it’s our responsibility to help them with this as well. But it’s also incumbent upon the community to lean in and lean forward and say, “Hey, this is not the time. Right now we are going through some trying times that we need to really pull ourselves through this together.”
Chief Sean F.: (42:11)
So again, we’re working with our Louisiana National Guard to implement our anti-looting deployment. But we will not tolerate any looting whatsoever.
Speaker 5: (42:22)
How soon will that be happening?
Chief Sean F.: (42:24)
Well, that starting now. That is going on right now. As I’ve said before, we’ve made several arrests as well as we have obtained warrants for subjects as well for their arrest and it’s for as State Felony for looting in the State of Louisiana.
Speaker 5: (42:35)
And then, last question. [inaudible 00:42:39] how do people get in contact with you?
Chief Sean F.: (42:40)
I think you heard the director say before, we have our fire stations that are open, we have our police stations that are open. But we have the National Guard that are boots on the ground as well as us. And we’re all on the radio system, so whomever, whatever public safety team member you may see, flag them down and they will get the police to respond accordingly.
Speaker 3: (42:58)
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (43:00)
It is very important to understand, and that you get it straight, there is no widespread looting operation going on throughout the City of New Orleans. And my directive has been very clear, lock them up. We will not tolerate it and we have not tolerated it. So we have apprehended those individuals associated with the looting that we have been able to identify, but there is no widespread looting going on in the City of New Orleans.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (43:30)
What we do have that’s widespread are residents who are being neighbors, who are understanding and exhibiting the spirit of humility, of empathy, who are cleaning up their lawns, who are servicing their community. That’s widespread in the City of New Orleans. That’s who we are. We will not in, any way, be targeted nor reported as being a city that is not under control. We are under control, we will remain under control and we will hold individuals who do not follow the guidelines and the parameters that are in place, and the laws, they will be held accountable. State felony. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (44:22)
Speaker 6: (44:23)
Mayor Cantrell? The weather is so hot right now, we don’t know when the electricity can be back on. What can be done to give people cooling centers? Can you speak on any services that are being done or can be done in the future for residents? Especially many people who didn’t have resources to evacuate before the storm certainly don’t have any resources now.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (44:47)
Sure. But at the end of the day and with the same tone, many of our residents who did stay, and we know it’s an upward of about 200,000, it’s not all because they didn’t have the means to evacuate. Those were choices that were made. But in spite of that, and with that, knowing that those residents are a top priority for the City of new Orleans. We have been in planning efforts prior to storm, but absolutely post-storm because you have to understand and assess the impacts of the storm to therefore stand up resources throughout the city.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (45:24)
As I stated earlier on in my remarks, while we were planning for a post evacuation effort, just in case, we do not believe that that effort is going to be necessary. Therefore, pivoting to standing up assets and resources in neighborhoods are our priority. You heard mentioned the fire stations that have been stood up to provide not only oxygen, oxygen staging, but also will be converted into power sources as well.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (46:00)
More information for our public regarding resources will become available. I do not want to give any specifics at this time until they’re fully operational. I don’t want our people to go and we’re not ready for them, but those things are in place… Meaning, we’re getting those things in place right now throughout… And looking again, being neighborhood specific. Areas throughout districts, working in partnership with neighborhood leadership with the New Orleans City Council members, but in our unified command structure.
Speaker 6: (46:40)
And one more follow-up question if I may. You had mentioned also that you wanted to be good neighbors and providing resources to other parishes as possible. Can you expand on that at all?
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (46:47)
What I have been told, and this will be even more defined as other communities and parishes are doing exactly what we’re doing, assessing their damage. What we do know kind of on the front end is aligned with people in other parishes that are hospitalized or have medical needs. And so we’re really just working very hard in collaboration with them should they need to, in some capacity, seek refuge here in the City of New Orleans. We’re identifying where we could provide that level of relief. That’s still a work in progress, but it is important for me to say, as the Mayor of the City of New Orleans, that we stand ready where we can to assist our parish leaders and our residents. Because we do recognize that the City of New Orleans is in a different situation although we have challenges.
Speaker 7: (47:46)
Mayor, you said that a post-evac you don’t believe will be necessary.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (47:49)
Speaker 7: (47:50)
As you’re moving forward, what exactly are you looking at to determine, to confirm that decision? What are the exact factors? And, what is the readiness of the convention center to handle something like that?
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (48:00)
So, first of all, we have been prepared to execute that as a plan should we need to. Based on the feedback that we have gotten from the ground and working, and this is an ongoing issue because things change and can change from moment to moment and we will pivot accordingly. What I have right now does not look as if the city needs to do a major post-storm evacuation. So therefore we’ll pivot operations based on the conditions that we do see on the ground.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (48:33)
The lack of power, as asked, is an issue but people still have the ability to stay and shelter in place. So giving them the access to power, charging stations, cooling stations, oxygen and other needs, that’s where our focus is right now. As we assess, if those needs change, we will change as well.
Speaker 3: (49:01)
Speaker 8: (49:01)
Is there any idea of how many people have evacuated the city or how many people are currently [inaudible 00:49:01].
Mayor LaToya Cantrell: (49:01)
Well, based on the preliminary and really data that we have collected from our communication sources, we’re using the number of about 200,000 residents that are currently in the city. I do not have a number for you in regards to those who evacuated, but we do know a large amount did. But at the end of the day we’re really focusing on those who are in the city right now and encouraging our residents who did evacuate to stay put until further notice.