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Hard Rock Building Collapse Updates

Oct 15
12:21 PM
Hard Rock Building Collapse

Tuesday Morning Update on Hotel Collapse

Public safety agencies continued Tuesday morning in their efforts to stabilize the Hard Rock Hotel construction site following Saturday’s collapse. The response continues in rescue and recovery mode as first responders work to recover one  deceased person and locate a missing person whose status is unknown. The collapse killed two people and injured at least 30 others.

New assessments show that both cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel construction site are unstable, forcing officials to expand the evacuation area beyond Canal Street. The evacuation zone now expands to buildings facing the Uptown side of Canal Street, between Burgundy Street and Elk Place. It already included the area surrounded by Conti, Bienville and Burgundy Streets.

The New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) continues to lead the response, with support from other public safety agencies — New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, New Orleans Police Department, Department of Health (DOH) — and other City agencies, related agencies and partners.

“We've increased our evacuation zone into the condition of the second crane. Our crews are back in there this morning with some equipment and (rescue) dogs. We are still trying to locate the one individual we have not accounted for," said NOFD Superintendent Tim McConnell. "Obviously we are hoping for the best, but as this (situation) drags on, the chances of that diminish. We have been in touch with both of the families of both of the people that are missing and keeping them well informed about what's going on.

"The teams that are in there will probably be in there the majority of the day. This takes a lot of time."

On Monday Supt. McConnell informed the media that both cranes are in danger of collapsing, and so "our goal is still to stabilize them and continue our search in a safe manner.”

The new assessment has forced emergency officials to rethink their current approach to stabilizing the cranes and building.

“We're trying to figure out a plan of attack,” said NOHSEP Director Collin Arnold on Monday. “Those cranes were going to be used to do one operation. That plan is now on hold, until we can figure out how to do it safely.”

Supt. McConnell said that engineers went inside the building several times Monday, and the Urban Search and Rescue Team conducted a third search of the site. Additional engineering and other experts, with experience that includes response to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks — are assisting in the response, with additional equipment arriving as well.

While weather conditions remain favorable today, there will be an increased chance for both rain and increased wind speed over the next few days — rain through Wednesday, wind through Thursday.

Large sections of two major thoroughfares near the French Quarter and the main business district remained closed, including streetcar tracks and bus routes. Commuters who are expected to head back to work in the downtown area should be aware of several road closures. Several blocks are closed around the collapsed building, so drivers should leave early due to the heavy delays expected.

The Department of Health and the Office of Community and Economic Development are working with residents and businesses in the evacuated area to answer questions and provide resources where possible. All questions should be directed to 3-1-1.

For those directly impacted by the Hard Rock Hotel collapse, DOH and New Orleans Public Library will be providing mental health care services. These services will be provided at the New Orleans Main Library (219 Loyola Ave.) from noon to 6 p.m. today (Tuesday, Oct. 15). Walk-ins are welcome. For immediate needs, please call Metropolitan Human Services District’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 504-568-3130.

For more updates, follow @nolaready on Twitter.