Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Tucks Bourbon Street Float

It's been both a slow and busy Ash Wednesday if that makes any sense. A lot of stuff to catch up on. Not a lot of physical and mental fortitude with which to do all of the catching up just yet. We'll get there.

In the meantime, here is an Ash Wednesday appropriate article by Andru Okun from this week's Gambit. It's about one of the most unsung but most fascinating Carnival entities sometimes known as the Krewe of Municipal Vehicles.
This year's 10-day Carnival season cleanup force is made up of 600 men and women and 114 pieces of equipment, including seven front-end loaders and 30 garbage and dump trucks. On any given night, these often overlooked and underappreciated laborers can expect to pick up anywhere between 50 to 100 tons of trash, working late into the evening to erase nearly all signs that a parade had ever passed anywhere along the miles-long route.

Trailing behind the last Uptown parade of the evening is a fleet of sanitation vehicles and a large crew of workers. A mighty vehicle called a flusher leads the way, carrying around 3,000 gallons of water and spraying the streets at high pressure from jets attached to the truck's front bumper (the water helps weigh down the garbage). Behind it is a band of rakers, dozens of men and women on foot using plastic rakes to push trash into the center of the street. Then comes a front-end loader, a tractor more commonly seen on large construction sites, that plows down the line of garbage, consolidates it, scoops it up and drops it into a dump truck that drives behind.

  Mechanical street sweepers follow, three-wheeled compact vehicles with powerful brooms on their undersides. Past the sweepers is another set of laborers on foot, a precision crew carrying rakes, shovels and wheeled garbage cans, picking up anything that was missed by the workers in front of them. Penultimate is a line of garbage trucks, edging along the route and absorbing stray bags of trash and the contents of garbage cans. Finally, several flatbed stake trucks fortify the rear, collecting rakes, shovels and garbage cans.
As that description suggests, the experience of watching the KMV come by is almost like seeing another parade. The mechanical plowing and scooping of the trash can even sound like a drum line. We often try to get at least a few pictures of the procession as it rumbles by.  These are from last year.

Here are the lead units approaching in a cloud of dust

KOMV approaches

Here comes the spray truck

Spray truck

And here are the sweeper trucks

Sweeper truck

Rake carriers

KOMV lead sweepers

The dumptrucks


They also do day parades, obviously.

Trash compact


People in New Orleans, particularly those in the upper middle classes, love to complain about how dang inefficient and "Third World" everything is around here. But the Krewe of Municipal Vehicles is one of the most impressive #FixMyStreets operations, you're likely to encounter the whole world over. Just seeing one is enough to disrupt the popular bourgeois narrative about our supposed endemic incompetence. Maybe that's why you hardly ever hear about them. 

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