A family of nine walked into the Red Cross shelter at the Mercedes Dome on Wednesday evening bearing a look of shock and visibly exhausted.
They politely declined to speak to The Monitor and went straight for the warm meal that awaited them: a burrito with a side of rice, corn and some fruit, all cooked by the Salvation Army, which is sanctioned to provide food for the Red Cross.
The family walked past the rows of cots where approximately 30 people have been sleeping, and joined others who were already eating.
There weren’t too many inside the facility around 4 p.m. Wednesday, with some working and others making the necessary arrangements to repair their homes.
Most are from Mercedes and many told shelter volunteers they were also affected during last year’s flooding, dubbed the Great Flood of 2018 by the National Weather Service in Brownsville.
None of them felt like talking about their losses.
The large room was mostly silent before the food arrived, with some of them sleeping, others reading, and some on their phone. It was nothing like last year’s scene, when shelters began reaching capacity within the first 24 hours, a volunteer said.
The thunderstorms that dropped more than a foot of water along the Mid-Valley area in less than six hours on Monday appear to have impacted fewer people than last year’s weather event, though no official count has been issued.
The preliminary data for affected homes and businesses is still being compiled, Hidalgo County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricardo Saldana said Wednesday afternoon. That information will likely be released Thursday, he said.
Still, the damage was enough for Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez to issue a local state of disaster proclamation two days after torrential rains caused widespread flooding in Mercedes, Weslaco, Monte Alto and the Delta area.
Neighboring Cameron and Willacy counties also issued their own declarations.
Cortez announced his decision via a press release Wednesday afternoon.
“ …The judge of the County of Hidalgo has determined that extraordinary measures must be taken to protect the public health, safety and general wellbeing of county citizens in order to alleviate the suffering of people and to protect and rehabilitate property,” the declaration stated.
The designation will be in effect for seven days, unless county commissioners extend it. County officials also activated the county’s emergency management plan, which allows departments to deploy necessary manpower and resources to alleviate residents.
It also allows them to begin coordinating with volunteer groups to provide aid to those who need it. And while the county’s call center is now closed, residents in need are asked to call their respective precincts.
Precinct 1 – (956) 968-8733
Precinct 2 – (956) 787-1891
Precinct 3 – (956) 585-4509
Precinct 4 – (956) 383-3112