Hidalgo County emergency management officials are bracing for another round of thunderstorms tonight as they race to alleviate the county’s drainage system, which is already at capacity.
The National Weather Service in Brownsville indicated more than 12.2 inches of rain fell Monday night as a cold front clashed with a hot mass, Hidalgo County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricardo Saldaña said Tuesday afternoon.
The rain caused major flooding along the Hidalgo-Cameron counties line, especially in Harlingen, Mercedes, Weslaco, Monte Alto and the Delta area, Saldaña said.
Hidalgo County Drainage District 1 is currently releasing water into the International Boundary and Water Commission floodway, but because of the amount of rain in the drainage system, it could take up to 24 hours to complete, Saldaña said.
“We’re expecting another round of 4-to-5 inches (of rain tonight),” he added. “There’s really nothing we can do than hope for the best. Right now our drainage system is at full capacity.”
The county is currently conducting an emergency management assessment.
“I know there was a number of water rescues overnight,” he said. “I don’t have those numbers but I can tell you it was probably over 100.”
AEP Texas has reported that approximately 9,200 customers are still without power in portions of the Rio Grande Valley following Monday night’s thunderstorms, which in addition to flooding and wind damage created outages for as many as 37,000 customers.
“Crews from outside the Rio Grande Valley are currently assisting with restoration efforts. Weslaco and San Benito are the two largest concentrated areas of power outages with nearly 6,700 customer outages between the two communities,” an AEP news release read.
Power is expected to be restored today by 5 p.m. in Port Isabel, 6 p.m. in Mission, and 9 p.m. in Edinburg, Harlingen, McAllen and San Benito. In Pharr and Weslaco, power is not expected to be restored in affected until noon and 9 p.m., respectively, on Wednesday.
“All times are subject to change depending on weather conditions and accessibility to our facilities and power lines,” AEP further stated in the release.
In the meantime, customers are encouraged to report downed power lines by calling (866) 223-8508.
Hidalgo County has opened a call center for residents needing weather-related information during the recent storms.
The hotline can help point residents to sandbag distribution sites and warn of road closures as well as active shelters in the area.
The center is reachable by calling (956) 292-7012.
The city of Weslaco announced via social media that sand and bags are available for residents at the Harlon Block Park, located at 1020 W. 18th St., and Mayor Pablo Peña Park, at 300 N. Airport Drive.
Sand and bags are available for residents to prepare themselves, with six issued per residence and 12 per business. Residents are required to bring their own shovel, as well as a Weslaco utility bill.
Six shelters across the Valley have been opened by the American Red Cross for those families seeking to get away from flooded areas.
Additionally, Red Cross disaster-trained responders have been dispatched to help as needed. “Our volunteers stand ready to respond should additional assistance be needed,” said Henry Van de Putte, the Regional Chief Executive Officer of the the American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast, in a statement from the agency.
The six shelters include:
Willacy County Community Safe Room
10804 Business 77
Raymondville, TX 78580
First Baptist Church
600 S Kansas Ave
Weslaco, TX 78596
La Feria Community Safe Room
1001 Pancho Maples
La Feria, TX 78559
Mercedes SafeDome/Recreation Center
1202 North Vermont
Mercedes, TX 78570
Edcouch Fire Department
200 W Santa Rosa Ave
Edcouch, TX 78538
Santa Rosa Elementary School
102 S Main St
Santa Rosa, TX 78593
Red Cross officials suggest anyone going to a shelter to bring along medications they may need, any special foods they may require, important documents and things to keep themselves and their families entertained and comfortable.