WESLACO — Three days after a six-hour rainstorm battered eastern Hidalgo County and parts of the Mid-Valley Monday night, county leaders say resources have been mobilized to help provide flood relief — both in terms of infrastructure and in humanitarian aid.
“ This is the second 500-year storm that we’ve endured in a year and five days, more or less,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner David Fuentes during a press conference at the Precinct 1 offices in Weslaco.
Fuentes, along with County Judge Richard F. Cortez, were joined by several of the county’s top brass Thursday afternoon to provide an update on continuing efforts to clear floodwaters from places such as Monte Alto and Mercedes, as well as proactive measures to combat mosquitoes.
Also Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a state of disaster declaration for Rio Grande Valley communities that sustained significant flooding damage as a result of Monday night’s thunderstorms.
Abbott’s declaration includes the counties of Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy.
While officials have kept a close eye on the status of drainage canals, pump operations and road closures in the wake of Monday’s storm, another branch of the county began another aspect of flood response Thursday morning.
The Community Service Agency set up shop at Monte Alto Early College High School at 9 a.m. Thursday to begin the process of providing humanitarian aid to residents affected by the flood. Executive Director Jaime Longoria outlined those efforts at the press conference.
Over 100 families had sought the agency’s help by Thursday afternoon, he said. “Our agency is responsible for providing assistance to the most vulnerable populations in the county,” Longoria said.
“ We had families that were completely displaced. We had a family that was living, actually living in a tent in their front yard because their home is completely gone,” he said. Gale force winds destroyed several mobile homes in Monte Alto.
The agency seeks especially to provide help to the elderly, the disabled and low-income families, Longoria said. “Our services are income-based. So, families living below 125% of federal poverty would qualify. … That’s a family of four earning less than $32,000 a year,” he said.
Even if residents exceed income requirements, Longoria said the agency will still attempt to provide help through other means. “(If) there’s a way that we can help either through our partners or through maybe some private funding that we may have, absolutely, we’re going to provide assistance,” he said.
The agency is able to facilitate temporary shelter accommodations, food, medication replacement, clothing and hygiene products, Longoria said.
The Community Service Agency will be accepting additional appointments today, as well as next week — from Monday through Wednesday — at a rate of 50 appointments per day, he said. Residents may seek assistance at the Monte Alto Early College High School, 9000 E. Valdez St. in Monte Alto, and are encouraged to make an appointment by calling (956)383-6240.