2018-09-12 / Front Page

Willacy County cities to pass out sandbags

BY ALLEN ESSEX
Staff Writer


A DUMP TRUCK UNLOADS PILES of sand Tuesday between Raymondville City Hall and American Legion Post 390’s hall along the railroad tracks. Local residents will fill their own sandbags to prepare for flooding or a possible tropical storm or future hurricane beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Residences are limited to six sandbags, businesses may take 10. People should bring their own shovels and proof of residence. The city will provide the bags and sand. Other Willacy County cities and county precinct barns will also have sandbags available. 
(Photo by Allen Essex) A DUMP TRUCK UNLOADS PILES of sand Tuesday between Raymondville City Hall and American Legion Post 390’s hall along the railroad tracks. Local residents will fill their own sandbags to prepare for flooding or a possible tropical storm or future hurricane beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Residences are limited to six sandbags, businesses may take 10. People should bring their own shovels and proof of residence. The city will provide the bags and sand. Other Willacy County cities and county precinct barns will also have sandbags available. (Photo by Allen Essex) Due to expected flash flooding, because of continuous rainfall, Willacy County cities and county precinct barns will begin distributing sandbags at 8 a.m. today (Wednesday), Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Torres said Tuesday.

Governmental leaders, police, fire, Emergency Medical Service and public works supervisors met at the Willacy EMS building at mid-day Tuesday to review weather forecasts and to coordinate with Rio Grande Valley city, county and state emergency officials.

In addition to the current rainfall over the South Texas Gulf Coast area, which is already saturated and expected to result in flash flooding, a storm predicted to become a tropical depression has crossed the Yucatan Peninsula and will likely cause even more heavy rain for the Valley, emergency leaders were told.

“We’re monitoring that storm and tracking all that stuff to make sure we can take care of people,” Torres said. A limit of six sandbags for each household is set for county residents and residents should bring their own shovel, Torres said.

In addition to county precinct barns, the cities of Raymondville and Lyford will distribute sandbags near City Hall. Smaller cities will also distribute sandbags.

Willacy County recently learned that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is not paying compensation to counties and cities in the Rio Grande Valley for flooding that occurred in June. However, Paul Greenhill, general manager of Willacy County Drainage District No. 1, who also handles maintenance in District No. 2, said FEMA officials are doing another review of the total amount of damage in the county to possibly reconsider its denial of compensation.

Most of the flood control expense came from pumping water from ditches into the main International Boundary and Water Commission floodway at Santa Monica, he said. Running large permanently installed pumps his district owns there cost $6,000 in fuel and $4,127 in overtime pay, he said. But those pumps were aided by portable pumps brought in by Willacy County, which absorbed costs of operating those, he said.

Torres released damage figures for the June 19-20 flooding. The grand total for public facilities claimed by Willacy County was $556,000.

The city of Raymondville claimed $146,908 in damage to public property.

Lyford claimed $23,752 in flood damage. A new park that was still under construction suffered major flooding there.

If another flood damages Willacy County this month, county officials will keep a more precise account of damage to public facilities, Torres said.

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