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New Orleans Buttons Up And Hunkers Down For Freezing Temperatures


New Orleans is expected to experience freezing temperatures beginning at 3 p.m. today. The freeze will last for 12 hours, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said at a press conference Monday in which she told New Orleanians to “stay home and stay safe.”

Any water on the roadways from the rain and sleet earlier in the day can turn into ice on the roads.

Cantrell said her main concern with the freeze is the quality of the city’s drinking water.

Ghassan Korban, executive director of the Sewerage and Water Board, said the city will likely have to issue a boil water advisory if there is a spike in water main breaks.

Two of the city’s major turbines are currently out of service, leaving the Sewerage and Water Board system in a fragile place during this freeze.

“We do not have redundant or extra power to operate the system if a piece of equipment goes down,” Korban said.

But S&WB has received two extra generators from the state, giving it four extra megawatts of power.

“It will be very limited to what it can help us with, so the redundancy remains an issue,” Korban said.

If water freezes inside pipes on private properties, that could trigger water main breaks that will lead to a drop in water pressure. A state-mandated boiled water advisory will be triggered if the water pressure drops below 20 lbs per square inch.

Korban instructed residents to run a “spaghetti thin trickle” of water from the faucet that is furthest away from the front of the house, where most water meters are located.

Korban also instructed residents to insulate exposed water pipes with foam, rubber or fiberglass sleeves or newspaper.

“It will take a city-wide effort to get through this freeze,” Korban said.

Ramsey Green, deputy director of infrastructure for New Orleans, noted that parking restrictions, especially in the French Quarter, put in place as part of a plan to mitigate crowds during the last days of Carnival season, are suspended.

“If you live in the French Quarter, you can park where you need to park,” Green said.

Sarah Babcock from the New Orleans Health Department urged residents not to give tents to unhoused community members.

“Those will not be enough to keep people safe on the streets,” Babcock said. “Tents hold moisture so things inside your tents will get wet and with the freeze. Subfreezing temperatures will then freeze, causing extremely dangerous conditions for homeless individuals inside our city.”

Instead, she said, people are encouraged to help unhoused people get to one of the city’s shelters. She said if someone needs transportation to a shelter, residents can call 311 or the New Orleans Police Department’s non-emergency phone number: 504-821-2222. Outreach teams from Unity for Greater New Orleans, NOPD’s homeless assistance unit, the Department of Public Safety will be available to bring anyone without shelter to one of the following shelters:

  • The Salvation Army, 4530 S. Claiborne Ave.
  • Ozanam Inn, 843 Camp St.
  • Covenant House, 611 N. Rampart St.
  • New Orleans Mission, 1130 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
  • Low Barrier Shelter, 1530 Gravier St.

Babcock said all shelters are open and will be allowing people to stay indoors and out of the cold for the next few days.

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