Mission urges residents to report storm damage

MISSION — Officials here are urging residents to report damage they acquired due to the heavy rains and flooding last week.

The hope is to receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. In order to do that, however, Hidalgo County, along with five other counties that experienced extensive damage from the storms, must reach a combined $38 million threshold of estimated damage, Mission City Manager Martin Garza said at a news conference Monday.

The two-day heavy rainfall last week hit the city particularly hard on Thursday, flooding many streets especially along FM 495 where a nearby drainage canal overflowed. The city reported seven inches of rain over four hours.

Last week, County Judge Ramon Garcia signed a disaster declaration followed by a declaration from Gov. Greg Abbott for Hidalgo, Cameron, Aransas, Nueces, San Patricio and Willacy counties. It is up to Abbott to request FEMA assistance if “the situation is beyond the capability of the State and affected local governments,” according to a FEMA fact sheet.

However, it is ultimately up to President Donald Trump to declare Texas a federal disaster state as a result of the storms.

Mayor Armando O’Caña said gathering that information would still be useful for planning purposes.

“The importance of this form is that it will give us a basic general idea of the total damages from Thursday to now that we have received inside the city,” O’Caña said. “Besides, it is important to be able to declare it as a national disaster. It is also a tool that we’re going to use for planning, our future planning for our drainage system.”

The city council unanimously voted to request proposals and statement of qualifications for engineering services for a drainage assessment.

“The main point is that I need this form to be completed,” O’Caña said. “Go to our website, give us the data so we can have the data so we can be able to make data-driven decisions.”

The form, available in English and Spanish, requests information such as the water level in a structure, percentage of the damage, the building type, whether it is rented or owned, whether a person has home owner’s insurance, property value, estimated income and estimated loss.

It is for Mission residents only and is not an official FEMA reporting document.

“We want to make sure that the public understands that the city of Mission can’t drive in front of a subdivision and determine how much damage your home and personal value has received because of this flood,” Garza said. “And so that’s why it’s very important to fill out this report.”