Road conditions are improving as southeast Louisiana continues to thaw from a deep freeze. But problems with the water system have school districts closed and city officials warning residents to be prepared for a few more difficult days ahead.
Broken pipes and residents running faucets to prevent frozen pipes strained the water system, resulting in a pressure drop. The New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board issued a precautionary boil water advisory for the entire East Bank of New Orleans, including Venetian Isles, Lake Catherine and Irish Bayou. The SWB recommends residents use "safe" water — either bottled or boiled tap water — for drinking, food preparation and brushing teeth. Residents should be careful not to ingest any water when showering.
Friday school closures:
Public and Catholic schools in Orleans Parish
Public and Catholic schools in Jefferson Parish
Public and Catholic schools in Lafourche Parish
Public and Catholic schools in Saint John the Baptist Parish
Terrebonne Parish public schools
The University of New Orleans
Delgado Community College
In addition to the boil advisory, officials are asking residents to limit water usage to necessity only — limiting laundry and dishwasher use — so that pressure can be restored to the water system.
Gov. John Bel Edwards says the state is moving bottled water into the area to help with demand, and the State Fire Marshal has moved seven tankers into the area to assist in any firefighting that may be necessary in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.
Because of the boil advisory and water pressure issues, Orleans Parish city facilities and schools will remain closed on Friday. State offices in Jefferson, Orleans, St. John, Lafourche, West Feliciana and Assumption Parishes will also be closed.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu is asking residential and commercial property owners to check their water pipes. If a break is discovered, residents should turn off their water and begin to repair leaks. This will relieve substantial pressure on the city's water system.
Officials hope to have the water system fully restored by Monday.
The interstate system was reopened Wednesday afternoon, but officials warned that dropping temperatures overnight may result in ice on roads Friday morning.