The Audubon Zoo reopened to the public on Wednesday, June 3. Zoo visits, however, are now a little different than in the past. All visitors will follow a one-way trail through almost all of the zoo to see many of their favorite animals and wildlife habitats. The interactive and indoor exhibits remain closed. Due to state and city reopening guidelines, all zoo admissions, including member admission, must be reserved online in advance for a specific date and entry time.
With all the rain we’ve had recently and Monday’s official start of hurricane season, I spent time yesterday ensuring my closest catch basin is in good working condition. After all, New Orleans is a city that floods, especially during hurricane season. With this year’s ongoing pandemic along with predictions of even more storms than usual, getting prepared for the inevitable deluge and updating our personal evacuation plan are especially vital. Weaker trade winds and warmer than normal ocean temperatures might be the official reasons that the National Hurricane Center expects 13 to 19 named storms and three to six Category 3 or greater hurricanes this year. Yet we can’t forget the impact of weather disasters farther up the Mississippi River or the impact of a storm that sits above our city for days at a time.
The Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans has begun a complete rehabilitation and upgrade of the Claiborne Avenue Pump Station, which houses four of eight water distribution pumps for the east bank of New Orleans. Due to the pump station’s proximity to Claiborne Avenue, new valves and meters for the station must be installed in the existing right-of-way of the highway. Starting today (Thursday, May 14), the eastbound lanes of Claiborne Avenue will be reduced to two lanes and re-routed onto a temporary roadway built on the neutral ground. Drivers are encouraged to heed all traffic directives, which will remain in place for the duration of the project. The estimated project completion date is July 2022.
Capt. Ronnie Stevens has retired from the New Orleans Police Department after commanding the Sixth District since 2014. Stevens is replaced by Capt. Preston Bax, who most recently served as assistant commander of the Fourth District in Algiers. The Sixth District covers the Central City, Garden District and Irish Channel neighborhoods. Before he took over as commander of the Sixth District, Stevens supervised investigations in the First District, which covers Mid-City and Treme, and in the Seventh District in New Orleans East. His 23-year NOPD career also included stints in the Special Operations Division’s Tactical Unit, Bomb Squad and Marine Unit. “Capt. Stevens has been a great colleague and friend during our time together in the NOPD,” said NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson in a press release.
Krewe of Red Beans, Rouses Markets, the Preservation Hall Foundation, Market Umbrella and the New Orleans Musicians Clinic & Assistance Foundation are partnering for a new effort to ease the pain of the pandemic, the Feed the Second Line program
On March 17, the Krewe of Red Beans, a group that holds a Lundi Gras walking parade, began raising money to buy food from locally owned New Orleans restaurants. Quickly, the effort grew. A month later, the Krewe of Red Beans was operating the largest such effort in the United States. As of April 19, the Feed the Front Line NOLA had sent over 60,000 meals to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers engaged directly with COVID-19 patients, spending $566,000 in the local economy so far. 49 restaurants and coffee shops are being supported by the initiative.
Xavier University is the first site in a campaign bring COVID-19 testing to medically vulnerable communities. Walk-up testing will be available at Xavier from Tuesday (April 21) through Friday of this week. LCMC Health, the New Orleans Health Department and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center will be conducting a mobile testing campaign for COVID-19 across the metro area over the coming weeks. At a press briefing on Monday, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the New Orleans Health Department, urged residents of the Xavier neighborhoods such as Gert Town, Hollygrove and Dixon to take advantage of the testing this week. To be eligible for testing, you must be 18 years of age or older and either recently exposed to COVID-19 or recently showing symptoms of the virus.
The coronavirus restrictions prevented the City Council from holding a hearing on Carnival safety planned for the March meeting of the Emergency Preparedness and Cybersecurity Special Committee, established in response to multiple tragic events that occurred in the past year. District D Councilman Jared Brossett, the committee’s chairman, has released the following statement seeking public input:
“I was looking forward to hearing from the public and Mardi Gras krewes on how we can make Mardi Gras safer for all who share in this annual tradition. I value your input and believe that success depends on us working together. “Since we are unable to meet in-person at this time, the Council wants to invite the public to submit written comments via email for safety improvements you believe the Council should consider. All written comments submitted to the Council via email by May 1st will be shared with Mayor Cantrell’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council.
A house in the 1000 block of Milan Street collapsed to the ground on Sunday, photos on the New Orleans Fire Department’s social media accounts show. No injuries were reported. The home was vacant and reportedly under renovation. The cause of the collapse has not been determined. Daytime winds in the New Orleans area on Sunday reached 30 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
In true collaborative spirit, Lusher Charter School engineering teacher Matthew Owen and his wife, Laura, are working with Tulane Medical School and local hospitals to create much-needed personal protective equipment, or PPE, for New Orleans hospital employees to protect them from COVID-19. The Owens are working with medical students and other engineers and students on designs for PPE. Laura Owen, a support services teacher at Lusher, spearheaded the effort with medical students who contacted hospitals about their needs. When they discovered that the teachers had access to Lusher’s 3D printers, the med students planned a Zoom call with the couple and developed a design to print. With permission from the school, the Owens brought three 3D printers and supplies home to begin the project.
Walmart is temporarily closing three stores in the New Orleans area today (Thursday, April 9) to sanitize them and restock shelves. The stores include the Walmart on Tchoupitoulas Street, as well as stores in New Orleans East and Harahan. They will reopen Friday at 7 a.m.
Third-party sanitation specialists will thoroughly clean and disinfect the stores according to guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection and other health experts, according to a press release. Walmart employees will be restocking the shelves. The Walmart press release states: “When the stores reopen on Friday we will conduct associate health screens and temperature checks, and all associates will be provided with face masks and gloves.