Guard crushes one of city’s worst homes

HARLINGEN — As the excavator crashed through the roof of the home, it spelled doom for one of the city’s biggest problem residences.

“Operation Crackdown,” the Texas National Guard’s effort to improve communities by subtraction of abandoned and dilapidated housing, is here to remove 23 of the neglected homes.

Today, it was 513 West Monroe’s turn.

“The 16 properties that were taken down today represent over 277 calls for service over the last three years,” said Police Chief Jeffry Adickes. “That’s 277 times that the Harlingen Police Department had to respond to calls for service or cries for help from these neighbors.”

For Adickes and his officers, the removal of the home on West Monroe has special significance and its destruction probably calls for some kind of department celebration.

“The house behind me, 513 W. Monroe, represents about 65 percent of those calls,” the chief said. “In the last three years we had about 180 calls here just alone. And that includes prostitution, assault, disturbances, drugs and gangs.”

This year marks the seventh year the National Guard has come to the city to help remove unwanted properties. It is part of the guard’s Joint Counterdrug Taskforce and uses soldiers in demolition units to remove dangerous structures at no cost to communities.

The houses scheduled for demolition this year, once operations finish, will total 205 such structures removed in Harlingen alone since the program began.