BY MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ AND CELESTE GRACIA | STAFF WRITERS
In a weather event that nearly repeated last year’s devastation, portions of an already storm-weary Hidalgo County and the surrounding areas sustained significant damage as a result of Monday night’s thunderstorms, with streets flooding and mobile homes being destroyed in the Delta area, and power outages reported around McAllen.
According to the city of McAllen’s Facebook page, outages were reported around Pecan Boulevard from 10th to 16 streets, and on 10th Street from Pecan to Tamarack Avenue. Flashing signals at several intersections were also inoperable, according to the city.
Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra tweeted Monday night about impacted areas near Monte Alto, where he stated that several mobile homes had been flipped over due to strong winds. The sheriff’s office additionally reported that live wires were down “throughout the community” and that electrical crews were expected to “work on the problem.”
Sheriff’s deputies were in the area assisting, along with the Elsa and Monte Alto fire departments and emergency management services, the sheriff said via Twitter.
What’s more, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported flooding in Hidalgo County, specifically in the vicinity of FM 491 and Mile 11 North in the Indian Hills area. This also includes FM 491 north of Business 83, and between State Highway 107 and north of Mile 17 North in La Villa.
Other areas that reportedly experienced flooding were Highway 107 between Elsa and Edcouch, FM 1925 east of Mile 4 West, FM 1015 north of 107 in Edcouch, and Business 83 from FM 493 to Victoria Road.
Flooding was such that Monte Alto ISD announced that the high school gym opened an emergency shelter Monday night, and the city of Elsa warned residents on Facebook of widespread flooding on city streets, including the main thoroughfares.
For Liz Alaniz of Alamo, the wind in her area was so violent that it ripped the roof off her porch.
“It sounded like a big boom. I don’t know how else to describe it — like a crash,” Alaniz said of the moment her porch, which measures 60 feet by 12 feet, was torn from her house.
“Now we have structural damage to the house,” she added.
According to Alaniz, she and her children were looking out the window of their home to watch the rain come down when she noticed the family’s trampoline getting closer to the house as gusts grew more intense.
“It was gaining momentum,” she said. “A stronger gust then blew the entire roof off the porch. Thankfully the glass on the window didn’t break, because the kitchen window is right next to it. But it’s leaning up against the house right now.”
The National Weather Service in Brownsville had issued a flood advisory during the early evening hours of Monday, including a flash flood warning for most of Hidalgo County. This included a severe thunderstorm warning in southeast Hidalgo County and the northwestern parts of Willacy and Cameron counties.
The flash flood warning stayed into effect, at least as of press time, until midnight.
NWS had also warned of hail falling in Weslaco, Donna, Mercedes and the surrounding areas.
At the time, NWS expected rainfall to continue until Tuesday morning, and estimated nearly 2 inches of rain falling over most of Hidalgo and Willacy counties, and about an inch of rain in southeast Starr County.
But by 9 p.m. Monday, the NWS had reported nearly 1-and-a-half feet of rain on Raymondville roads and over 6 inches of rainfall in west Raymondville toward Lasara. More than 4 inches of rain also fell in Monte Alto and Weslaco, and between 3 and 4 inches from Hidalgo through Pharr, according to the NWS.
“Some areas are likely seeing water (more than 3) feet deep,” NWS stated via its Facebook page Monday night, identifying these areas as “poor drainage locations.”
The severe weather came just two days after the first-year anniversary of the Great June Flood of 2018, in which thunderstorms inundated portions of the Rio Grande Valley between June 18 and 22, stranding motorists and homeowners in low-lying areas who required high water rescues, and leaving tens of millions of dollars in damages in its wake.
Such was the impact that President Trump approved a national disaster declaration for the Valley, with residents receiving assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA funds, however, eluded local governments because it did not reach a federal threshold for public assistance.
The Mid-Valley area sustained some of the more significant damage in 2018, with homes, businesses and properties destroyed in floodwaters reaching several feet in depth, as well as in McAllen, Mission, Edinburg, Pharr, the Delta area, Donna and Mercedes in addition to portions of Cameron County.
The flooding was so significant last year that it also prompted millions of dollars in drainage improvement plans in these areas, and led local officials to rethink emergency management preparations with more proactive approaches, such as imposing stricter retention guidelines on developers.