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Flooding fears prompt officials to cancel classes in New Orleans

A fire has diminished the city's pumping capacity and has raised concerns about possible flooding.

All public schools in New Orleans will be closed Friday because of concerns about flooding.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that a fire has taken out power to several pumps in the city; the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans says the fire has diminished pumping capacity for the east bank of Orleans Parish.

"The decision to close all schools was made earlier this morning out of an abundance of caution and in order to provide families and staff ample time to plan and secure childcare for the remainder of the week as the city deals with this diminished drainage capabilities and the threat of rain in some areas," a statement from the Orleans Parish School Board says. "School officials remain in close contact with school leaders, the Sewage & Water Board and the Mayor’s office on this matter."

The affected schools include those operated by the Orleans Parish School Board, by the Recovery School District and by charter organizations.

The pumping problems come amid revelations that 16 of the city's pumps were out of service Aug. 5 when heavy rain flooded parts of the area. 

“The safety of students is our number one priority,” Orleans School Board President John Brown Sr. says. “Due to low pump capacity and forecast of rain, there is a real threat of widespread flooding. I support the Superintendent and school leaders closing schools out of an abundance of caution."

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