Post-flood shakeup of New Orleans agency underway
By KEVIN McGILL
Aug. 22, 2017
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The head of a New Orleans agency weathering heavy criticism since flash floods swamped buildings and streets in sections of the city this month officially retired Tuesday, an accelerated departure that cleared the way for a new emergency management team named by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Cedric Grant had already announced plans to retire from the city's Sewerage and Water Board at the end of hurricane season in November. He had acknowledged that public confidence in the agency was low after flooding Aug. 5 exposed problems with manpower and equipment. The problems included inoperable pumps and damage to power systems instrumental in removing storm water.
City Hall announced in a news release that his retirement was effective Tuesday.
The management team named by Landrieu is headed by state government veteran Paul Rainwater.
Rainwater has experience in state disaster recovery efforts, including heading the Louisiana Recovery Authority formed after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
Other team members include:
— Terrence Ginn, the Deputy Commissioner for Finance & Administration with the Louisiana Board of Regents, the state's top higher education board.
—Renee Lapeyrolerie, a public relations expert who, the city said, "will work to strengthen S&WB relations with governmental entities and improve communications efforts, including the distribution of timely and accurate public information." It's a crucial role because early statements from the city that the pumping system was operating at maximum capacity turned out to be false.
— Ehab Meselhe, an engineer with the Water Institute of the Gulf, who will provide scientific and engineering support to the board.
—Brig. Gen. Owen Monconduit of the Louisiana National Guard, who will provide engineering, contracting and procurement support for the emergency repairs at the S&WB.
— Robert Turner, an engineer with the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, who will provide technical expertise on stormwater management and drainage operations.