HARLINGEN —What a mess.
Rey Garcia had walked into the Wilson Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlingen yesterday and knew he had a job to do.
About two to three inches of water remained from the frantic rains that had hurled themselves onto the Harlingen area earlier this week.
“We’ve been sweeping it out with push brooms and squeegees to push out the water,” said Garcia, director of the Wilson Unit.
“Once we get the water out we’ll have to clean the walls with bleach so that we won’t get mold,” he said. “My director said we will reopen Monday.”
The skies dumped more than 12 inches of rain on Harlingen this week, closing the five units of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlingen on Tuesday as well as the Harlingen school district. The mini-gym at Wilson used both by the school and the Boys and Girls Clubs had standing water.
“We’re just doing the club but the gym got a lot of damage and the school got a lot of damage,” he said. “I don’t know how long that will take.”
Water still stood on the soggy playground and debris dried on the parking lot where it had been left by the floods. Metal awning had been torn off by the winds and lay torn and twisted on the ground.
Dishman Elementary was hit especially hard by the rains, said Oscar Tapia, assistant superintendent of district operations for the Harlingen school district.
“We’re still doing a lot of assessing,” Tapia said. “Today was the first day we could actually get into Dishman Elementary because yesterday there was a lot of water in the parking lot, outside the buildings, inside the buildings. Today we’re just trying to get all of the water out of the building so we can look at what we have and what’s going to have to be replaced.”
He said the district would have to determine how much damage the rain had inflicted on the walls, books, computers and other equipment. They would need to assess what carpets would have to be replaced.
“We won’t know until probably next week where we are,” he said. “And once we define the scope of the repair work then we’ll have to get prices and go out for bids. It’s going to be substantial. It’s quite a bit of damage.”
BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS
The flooding and subsequent closures of school campuses meant students couldn’t attend summer classes for the Harlingen district’s Beyond the Bell program. However, yesterday kids filled the gym at the Main Unit at 1209 W. Washington Ave. The unit at the LeMoyne Gardens housing area was also open. The units at Lamar, Wilson and Ben Milam elementary schools were closed and would remain so until further notice.
Fair Park, where the Main is located, was flooded as were many side streets Tuesday.
“There were streets that were actually blocked because of the flooding,” said Alma Dones, unit director at Main.
“So for everyone’s safety, because it was predicted that it would continue raining, we wanted to keep our members and their families safe,” she said. Thus, yesterday’s closures.
“The roads were clear, no major damage, everything was running smoothly,” she said.
However, there were fewer kids yesterday at the Main.
“A lot of them too, depending on where they live, I hear some roads are still blocked off and some of them did have water damage in their houses,” she said. “They’re probably helping in the cleanup.”
Some kids showed their love and loyalty to the club at Wilson by helping with the cleanup.
“I have been coming here since I was a little kid, and I wanted to come and help out the Boys and Girls Club so we can play basketball and all the other activities,” said Augustine Lopez, 16.
Myra Quilantan, youth development professional at the Wilson Unit, considered the damage to many schools compared to the cleanup job at the club.
“At least we still have a club,” she said as she pushed a mop. “We’ve just gotta clean up.”