London has fatbergs: glistening, multiton agglomerations of fat, sanitary napkins, "flushable" wipes, human waste, dirty diapers, used condoms, and delicious strawberry jam; New Orleans has 93,000 pounds of plastic Mardi Gras beads.
The city's emergency crews have spent $7m since September, vacuuming the beads out of 15,000 of the city's 64,000 catch-basins, which had become too clogged to function.
Functional catch-basins are key to the city's flood mitigation strategy. Without them, the city is at significant risk (which is not to say that there isn't a real risk under the best of circumstances).
This being New Orleans, the mitigation effort has been confounded by a string of scandals involving the contractors who are clearing out the drains: a mixture of illegal waste dumping, lawsuits over contract awards, and failure to perform.
What's more, the 93,000 pounds of Mardi Gras beads - more than 46 tons - were all found on St. Charles between Poydras Street and Lee Circle. Speaking at Thursday's news conference, Galloway said Public Works is brainstorming with the city's sanitation department on methods, such as temporarily stuffing the openings with "gutter buddies," to keep so many carnival beads from going down the drain.
46 tons of Mardi Gras beads found in clogged catch basins [Beau Evans/NOLA.com]
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