New Orleans’ Summer of Floods Revives the Threat of Privatization

By Aviva Shen, Climate Progress

New Orleans was caught off guard by a summer of floods. In August, parts of the city were overwhelmed after nine inches of rain fell in four hours. Another flash flood in October shut down some streets and submerged cars. As climate change warms the Gulf of Mexico, it’s expected that the city, which sits below sea level, will see heavier rainstorms and more flooding in the future. This year’s spate of floods prompted sudden scrutiny of the city’s long-neglected infrastructure, but everyone knows the system is not fully prepared to manage the city’s regular downpours. New Orleans uses a complex hundred-year-old pumping system powered by a World War II-era electric system. After the August flooding, the Sewerage and Water Board admitted that at least 14 of the pumps that constantly churn water out of the ground had been offline. Outrage erupted. Several board officials resigned in political sacrifice, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) called for a private company to intervene and potentially...