Uptown New Orleans residents prepare to deal with flooding, boil water advisory


Alexandria Whitten

A Robert Street resident carries bottled water to his home in response to a boil water advisory for the Uptown area on May 3, 2019. The water main that caused the flooding was over 100 years old.

Rose Wagner

Sixty-year resident of New Orleans Harry Ray stood on the porch of his raised home on the corner of Robert Street and Claiborne Avenue looking out as water lapped at the front steps of his home.

While rushing water was flooding the street, Ray just cracked a smile.

“Yeah this is kind of funny I got my own little river,” Ray joked.

A 104-year-old water main on Claiborne Avenue broke around 2:30 a.m. on Friday, leaving Ray and many Freret neighborhood residents subject to heavy street flooding as well as a boil water advisory, according to the city. Several Uptown schools closed for the day and Loyola University is under a precautionary boil water advisory as well.

Ray geared up his red pickup truck around noon on Friday to gather bottled water and supplies in case he might be out of water for two to three days. But Ray said that he is being resourceful.

“I can just grab buckets of water right here,” Ray said. “I told my nephew ‘OK, we got five gallon buckets you can flush the toilet.'”

A Robert Street resident, who referred to himself as Bob Surf as a result of his floral swim trunks and desire to remain anonymous, said he woke up around 1 a.m. to the sound of water.

“I heard it rushing into the drain and I thought it was raining,” Surf said.

He quickly realized something was wrong, and having been through a few hurricane seasons, Surf got prepared.

“I moved my cars real quick and just waited,” Surf said. “I ran out at 3 a.m. and bought water.”

Surf then decided to embrace the “ocean” views and threw on swim trunks before sitting down with members of the Sewage & Water Board while they watched the water run.

“At this point we are playing a waiting game,” Kennan Mitchell of the Sewage & Water Board said.

Mitchell had been at the scene since 5:45 a.m. but did not know the true cause of the break, his focus was the aftermath.

“We are waiting for the water to stop and then for them to actually start pumping out so that we can go around and clean up catch basins,” Mitchell said.