Image: Flooded New Orleans
Alex Brandon  /  AP
McNally Sislo, left, and Alison Mantilla walk through flooded streets of New Orleans on Thursday.
updated 12/21/2006 6:05:43 PM ET 2006-12-21T23:05:43

Heavy rain swamped New Orleans’ streets Thursday, backing up traffic as pumping stations struggled to keep up.

“Unbelievable,” said Pamela Borne, who waded in knee-high water with her daughter on her back to get to her house. “It’s very disappointing, that just with an overnight rain of this magnitude, that the city is so ill-prepared.”

Most of her home was above the water level, but its ground-level basement, where she had stashed Christmas presents, had 4 inches of water in it before noon, Borne said.

Pumping stations, closely watched since the catastrophic flooding after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, were working, officials said. But the rain lasted so long, they couldn’t keep up, said public works director Jose Gonzalez of Jefferson Parish.

“The rest of the day, we will continue to pump,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully, it’s not going to rain as much as it did this morning. ... The amount of rain, that’s what hurt us.”

The same storm that dumped snow across the West brought about 6.6 inches of rain to the New Orleans area through midday Thursday. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch until noon Friday for parts of east-central and southeastern Louisiana.

The community of Larose, about 60 miles south of New Orleans, got an estimated 10 to 12 inches of rain, said meteorologist Fred Zeigler said. Parts of southeastern Louisiana, leading up to New Orleans, had 6 to 8 inches, he said.

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