Harlingen officials issued their city’s residents a reminder that all Rio Grande Valley residents should heed. They said residents should take a full account of all the damage that occurred in last week’s floods and report everything that was affected.
The officials are collecting the information as they prepare their request for government funds to help allay the costs of repairing the damage. They want everything to be tallied in order to help ensure that the collective damage meets the minimum requirements for federal disaster relief. A full accounting could means more assistance, and reduce the likelihood that the city, and property owners, will be shortchanged.
Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a disaster declaration for the area and sent it to President Trump, whose signature would authorize the release of disaster funding.
City officials say the information also will help them determine where the worst flooding and damage occurred, and enable them to take measures that might mitigate that damage in the future. They will use the information to plan drainage improvements and other measures to prepare for future floods.
Such preparation is a good idea on a personal level as well.
A full inventory of flood-damaged property helps residents prepare individual insurance claims, as well as assess what needs to be repaired.
All Valley residents, not just those in Harlingen, should take note of such recommendations. After all, the entire Valley is a flood plain and lies within the Atlantic storm corridor. Parts of Brownsville, the mid-Valley and northern Cameron and Hidalgo counties have all flooded in recent years.
The best way to make sure that all damage is accounted for is to prepare before a storm ever hits. Residents should take a full inventory of their dwellings and belongings, and store the list in a weatherproof place or container. It’s even better to take photographs of those belongings, especially valuable ones; modern technology makes it easy and inexpensive to take photos with a cellphone or electronic camera and upload the images to a memory card or disc.
Harlingen officials suggested that residents send them photos of any property damaged in last week’s floods to help them prepare the disaster request. Images of the items before such events can help by showing how they looked before the damage.
Before stashing away any preparatory lists and photos, property owners can use them to review their personal insurance policies and assess what’s covered and what might not be. People should be able to call upon their insurance agent to review the policy with them and help remove any doubts about what the policy covers and what it doesn’t.
Valley residents choose to live here because the benefits of being here outnumber and outweigh the risks of damage and loss due to the storms and flooding that occasionally but inevitably occur. The negative effects of those events can be reduced further if we take all the measures we can both before and after they arrive.