"With the coronavirus already stretching supplies and budgets, local leaders worry that a flood could overwhelm them."
"From her home window, Belinda Constant, mayor of Gretna, Louisiana, watches the mighty Mississippi flow by. Beyond it are the sparkling lights of New Orleans. She views both warily these days.
New Orleans is a hot spot for Covid-19, and thousands of cases locally means she’s working with a skeletal staff under lockdown conditions. Meanwhile, the Mississippi has risen more than a foot in the past week, triggering emergency flood measures. And the rains keep coming.
Gretna itself is below sea level, and currently some 11 feet below the surging river. All that’s keeping the city dry is a levee built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Constant says she prays every day that it doesn’t rain any more, or that one of the enormous cargo ships making its way down the river doesn’t get caught in the currents and swept into the barrier.
“It is scary. Everybody is so invested in one pandemic now,” she says. “When you think about resources put toward this crisis I don’t know where the resources are going to come or how long will it take to address another crisis.”"