MISSION — First responders of the Rio Grande Valley were honored Tuesday at the Mission Community Center for their efforts during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
The city of Mission in-conjunction with Hidalgo County held the RGV Harvey Responder Appreciation Dinner for the first responders and their families as a display of gratitude and support from all four of the Valley counties who went to service the residents of Southeast Texas and the Coastal Bend after Hurricane Harvey in August.
Mission HEROES Inc. is a nonprofit organization and an acronym for Helping Emergency Responders Organization with Eternal Services, which was founded here in 2002. Their motto is: “We take pride in serving our First Responders.”
Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas” thanked the first responders for answering the call of need and going to assist the residents in the hurricane zone in getting back on their feet.
“I don’t know how we can really repay you all for doing what you all do,” Salinas said. “I really appreciated it and I hope God will see all the times you all answer the call of need.”
The Valley responders assisted with the aftermath for periods ranging from a couple of weeks to almost a month.
Guest speaker Antonio “Tony” Peña Jr., Texas Division of Emergency Management Region 3 state coordinator, detailed statistics about the Valley responders efforts and offered words of empowerment.
“There were over 12 million cubic yards of debris. We’ve destroyed 2.3 million from the coastal area up to Houston,” Peña said. “We had about 63,000 people in shelters across the state of Texas.”
“There were many uniforms that responded to bring normalcy to people’s lives, no matter what kind of incident.” Peña said. “We are Texas strong, we will recover.”
A note was placed on each table from the city of Mission that read: “Thank You First Responders” in all capital letters and read: “We greatly commend your unselfish efforts and commitment to the hundreds of families across Texas that were affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“Thank you for your swift action and coordinated efforts which saved many lives during the catastrophic event. It was evident that you did it with such compassion and love for your fellow Texans. We are proud of you!”
Ricardo Saldaña, emergency management coordinator for Hidalgo County, also spoke of his appreciation to the responders.
“You all stepped up to the plate because you all are part of a team, a team that makes Texas stronger and make the Rio Grande Valley proud of the communities you served,” Saldaña said.
Master of Ceremony Eddie Olivarez, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services chief administration officer, said that during the period that the first responders were out helping, there was never a complaint after working many hours and with uncomfortable sleeping conditions.