Hundreds At Veterans Ave. Office Buildings Stay Home Due To Low Water Pressure

“It’s alarming to me how woefully unprepared both Orleans and Jefferson Parish are”

METAIRIE – Low water pressure caused hundreds of employees to stay away from office buildings and hospitals in Jefferson Parish Thursday. 

The loss of pressure in the parish water distribution system was blamed on an extremely high number of water line breaks caused by this week's hard freeze, according to the Jefferson Parish Water Department. 

Temperatures dropped in the low 20s Fahrenheit  overnight Wednesday. The Jefferson Parish Water Department issued a boil water advisory for the entire East Bank of Jefferson Parish Thursday morning as a "precautionary measure."

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The New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board also issued a precautionary boil water advisory entire east bank of New Orleans. Boil advisories in both parishes remained in place Thursday evening. 

Low water pressure in large multi-story office buildings resulted in toilets that didn’t flush and property managers who expressed concern over fire safety due to low water pressure in sprinkler systems.

Officials at the Louis Armstrong Airport scrambled to bring it portable restrooms for its passengers and staff on Thursday. Two Ochsner Medical Center locations on Jefferson Highway and in Kenner canceled elective surgeries. 

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Low water pressure in Jefferson Parish affected a host of businesses with offices in Jefferson Parish buildings. 

At 6 a.m. Thursday, the property manager of The Eustis Building at 110 Veterans Avenue, informed owners that employees would not be able to use the restroom facilities that day.

The Eustis building has approximately 250 employees who work in 40 separate businesses (including the offices of Biz New Orleans).

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“By contract, I can not tell people they can’t be in the building, we have security that allows for 24-hour access, but right now, we simply can’t offer restroom services because they are not functioning because of the water pressure,” said Dann Cahoon, chief operating officer at Rault Resources, which manages the property.

“More importantly, my fire suppression system is not functioning. We simply don’t have any water. It’s a safety issue, combined with lack of restroom availability. We sent out a series of emails to business owners as things developed.”

Cahoon said that was also the case across the street at Heritage Plaza, an 18-story high-rise office building at the foot of Veterans Avenue. A property manager from Sterling Properties did not return a request for comment to confirm.

Cahoon said he will return to the Eustis building at 9 p.m. Thursday to check on the water pressure and send out an updated email to business owners. 

“It’s somewhat alarming to me how woefully unprepared both Orleans and Jefferson Parish are; the city is shut down for two days because we had a cold front,” Cahoon said. “If we don’t have water pressure at 9 p.m., we will check it again Friday at 6 a.m., which unfortunately, is not good enough for a lot of my tenants.”

-By Jenny Peterson, Associate News Editor, Biz New Orleans

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