Two Cars Found in New Orleans Drainage Tunnel 14 Years After Hurricane Katrina

Now that’s a clogged pipe.

byRob Stumpf| UPDATED Sep 3, 2019 3:34 PM
Two Cars Found in New Orleans Drainage Tunnel 14 Years After Hurricane Katrina

Following the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana more than 14 years ago, New Orleans has suffered constant flooding when it rains in part due to the massive amount of debris spread throughout the city's drainage canals. A recent dredging expedition in one of these underground tunnels came back with a surprising find—two whole cars lodged in the pipe, one of which appears to have been washed away in the 2005 storm.

First highlighted by Jalopnik, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports workers were surprised to find the two vehicles among 750 tons of debris removed from an underground portion of the city's Lafitte Canal as part of ongoing infrastructure repairs in the city. In late August, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans announced that it had identified the area of a major blockage in the tunnel, which is located near a critical pumping station, and would start the process of dismantling it.

As the tow truck reeled in its winch, a 2002 Mazda 626 emerged from the shadows. It definitely looks like you'd imagine a car would after spending more than a decade in an underground drain pipe—completely rusted out, covered in gunk, and smashed into a pancake. Police would later learn that this vehicle had originally been reported missing on August 29, 2005, or exactly the day Hurricane Katrina collided with New Orleans. 

While it's not entirely clear how or when the Mazda ended up lodged underground, the speculation is that floodwaters swept it into an open-air section of the canal, where it was pushed through a culvert and approximately 250 feet into the tunnel. The police report notes that the Mazda is far too deteriorated to make a definitive conclusion, but the hurricane scenario seems likely. 

The provenance of the second car found in the tunnel isn't clear—same goes for the truck bed and sofa that authorities pulled out of there. The discoveries have prompted officials to begin examining other parts of the drainage system where more buried treasure might be lurking.