$46M in federal funds to address damage sustained during 2018 storms

Area residents wade through floodwaters Wednesday, June 20, 2018, on Texas Avenue in Weslaco, Texas. A sub-tropical system moved inland from the Gulf of Mexico overnight, causing catastrophic flooding in some areas of Cameron County. (Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

The skies opened up in South Texas on Tuesday at about the same time the federal government announced $46 million in grant funding for recovery efforts stemming from severe storms and flooding nearly a year ago in Cameron, Hidalgo and Jim Wells counties.

Last year’s disasters left damaged homes, businesses and infrastructure in their wake, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement on Tuesday.

Several South Texas cities were damaged from the June storms last year, which led Weslaco voters to pass a $10 million bond earlier this month, and also led to some 2,800 damaged homes in McAllen.

Drainage has been a focus for Valley leaders in recent years as they have tried to expand projects to ensure even quick bursts of rainfall don’t result in street flooding, or worse. Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra announced more than 10 intersections that were closed on Tuesday afternoon due to midday rains.

“South Texans endured relentless storms last summer and many are still recovering from the resulting damage,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Last year the Rio Grande Valley experienced unprecedented flooding, unlike anything before, and as a result we’ve seen Texans unite to rebuild communities that were hit hard,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said in a statement.

McAllen has put forth a roughly $50 million drainage master plan, part of which has already been put in motion. In April, the city began construction on one of 66 drainage projects city officials have identified across the city.

While the city, and others across the region wait for the federal dollars to reach South Texas, projects like the one that began in April near McAllen High School could not be finished faster. At the groundbreaking ceremony for the project, McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez was worried about days like Tuesday.

“Every time it rains, I just cringe at the fact that an inch of rain impacts this area,” he said.

mferman@themonitor.com