Flooding leads to high-dollar damages

HARLINGEN — Along Jackson Street’s business district, wet carpet and pieces of soggy wood flooring are laid out in the sun.

Inside the rows of historic buildings, damages are running high after floodwaters entered most businesses here.

Merchants are still cleaning up after the storm that dumped more than 12 inches of rain during a four-hour period Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

“Eighty-five percent of businesses got water one way or another,” Edward Meza, the city’s downtown manager, said yesterday in an historic building where floodwaters ran about 1 1/2-inches high.

Most shops have reopened, he said.

“In terms of dollars, it’s costing the businesses,” Bill DeBrooke, who owns several downtown buildings, said yesterday. “Everybody that could get open got open.”

At his Jackson Street office, damages are expected to climb to $30,000 to $40,000 after six to eight inches of floodwaters entered his building, DeBrooke said.

“The cleanup people have been there since the next day (Tuesday) and they’re still there,” he said.

DeBrooke said some property owners and merchants question whether recent city improvements have bogged down the area’s drainage system.

“It seems like the water is not getting out of the downtown as fast,” he said. “That’s the question on everybody’s mind.”

Early Tuesday morning, floodwaters were rushing more than a foot high down Jackson Street.

“At 2:30 in the morning, the water was over the sidewalk and up against the building,” DeBrooke, who bought his first building in 1990, said. “I’ve never seen that before.”

The storm, described as one of worst here in decades, hit some business hard.

“It’s just crazy,” DeBrooke said. “It was an amazing amount of water.”

At Don Gallito’s Tex-Mex Restaurant on West Van Buren Avenue in the La Placita district, floodwaters rose about 16 inches, Meza said.

Across the street, he said, another 16 inches rushed into Frontier Direct Primary Care.

“People cleaned up and got back to work — no choice,” DeBrooke said. “If you’re not open, you don’t make money.”

But the damages are stacking up as property owners and merchants brace for a steep tax increase after the Cameron County Appraisal District increased property values along Jackson Street’s five blocks by an average of more than 40 percent.

“It’s just a double hit,” DeBrooke said.