Restoring infrastructure and services after Hurricane Katrina

Watch this inspiring video about looking back and leaping forward.

Watch this inspiring video about looking back and leaping forward.

Imagine working on a hurricane emergency crew in the city’s wastewater treatment facilities with 140 mph winds raging outside.

Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast ten years ago, causing critical levees to break and flooding one of the most historic American cities, causing untold damage and suffering. In a crisis of that magnitude, quickly restoring essential infrastructure – including the city’s sewerage assets – became an urgent matter of health and safety.  Other action was taken to restore environmental services to get the economy back up and running. 

Veolia employees worked around the clock during and after the storm to restore operations, managing wastewater treatment facilities (in New Orleans, Kenner, Harahan and other communities) and supporting area businesses and manufactures with our environmental expertise. 

Given the tremendous impact to public health and the environment, Veolia employees were airlifted out and later boated back to the site to help restore wastewater treatment efforts. We continue to serve the city proudly, helping meet the infrastructure needs of residents and businesses alike.

In the video below, local Veolia employees share their memories of that time, memories that included:

  • Meeting the EPA’s 60-day emergency deadline to restore primary and secondary wastewater treatment after flood water overtook a 14-foot protective levee.
  • Sending teams of Veolia specialists to decontaminate commercial facilities, including the destruction of 50 million pounds of rotting food. 
  • Donating $1 million to the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund.
  • Providing industrial and environmental services to area businesses and manufacturers to ensure operational resiliency, even as Hurricane Rita struck more operations in Louisiana and Texas.
  • Helping our customers deal with floodwaters contaminated with raw sewage, chemicals and fuel. More than 400 environmental experts from Veolia provided clean-up services to customers throughout Louisiana and Mississippi.
  • Sending expert divers to shut down natural gas mains and pumping stations in flooded sections of New Orleans, collecting and destroying hazardous waste and supporting restarts of critical area manufacturing sites. 
  • Holding a Texas barbecue for almost 1,500 evacuees. 

Each year, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) recognizes the environmental excellence of water utilities through its Peak Performance Award. Ten years ago, the city’s facilities were battered by Hurricane Katrina. In August 2015, the Sewerage and Water Board received NACWA’s Platinum Award, recognizing 100% full compliance with permits over a five-year period, a reminder of the hard work of the past ten years.