HARLINGEN — City officials are urging residents to report all damage from last week’s flood event to ensure the city meets the required threshold for disaster relief and pinpoints flooding problem areas.
The city has created a dedicated email address to allow residents to quickly file a damage report, including photos. As an alternative, residents can download the City of Harlingen app for Android or Apple devices and upload damage reports there.
The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
“It is important in that it’s going to help us with calculating those damages,” Carlos Sanchez, assistant city manager, said yesterday. “The threshold with the federal government, or FEMA, is based on the number of homes.”
Sanchez said he believes the city has already met the damage threshold that will trigger federal disaster funds from the flood damage. But he also is encouraging all residents who suffered damage to report to the city in order to map out just where the worst flooding occurred.
“The information that we’re collecting serves several purposes,” he said. “One is getting a hold of the extent of the damage, but it also helps us map the areas that were impacted, those that were severely impacted.”
“So what we’re in the midst of doing is categorizing some of those areas that were affected or damaged or destroyed,” Sanchez added. “That helps us at the same time prioritize when drainage improvements projects are being considered. There’s a benefit-cost ratio that’s computed. And, again, this is also part of the funding through FEMA.”
Sanchez said citizen reports of flood damage, along with photos when possible, helps document the need for future flood mitigation or drainage in an area and can help sway funding decisions.
“By having the pictures, and a picture tells you a thousand words, so then when we go to calculate the application process, it includes the benefit-cost ratio,” Sanchez said. “You’re going to need a ratio and I guess it’s one or above where the improvements or the monies that are going to be invested in that area, the benefit outweighs the capital cost.”
Waiting on Trump
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a disaster declaration for the Rio Grande Valley area and it has been sent to President Trump for his approval.
It isn’t known when the White House will act on the governor’s declaration, but it is expected to win the president’s approval and that will release federal monies to the region.
“We’re still waiting and we’re still collecting data, so what they do is they come in and start looking and verifying what we reported,” Sanchez said. “Those pictures again help us document during the reconciliation process or the verification process.”
233.5 tons and counting
City officials say so far 467,000 pounds of flood debris and damaged household materials have been collected for disposal by city crews.
Residential city-dwellers can pile debris at the curb just like they do brush. Business owners are being asked to take debris and water-damaged materials directly to the city landfill at 4900 E. Harrison Ave.
Toxic or hazardous material such as paint and other chemical substances are not allowed in the landfill and should not be placed out by the street.
The Health Department is continuing to add larvicide to standing water and has begun spraying for mosquitoes city-wide.
Crews sprayed the entire city last week and will continue this week and next.
Residents are encouraged to help by turning over all containers in their yards which are holding water, such as flower pots, bird baths and any used tires.
The city is urging everyone to make sure their grass is cut if dry enough, since mosquitoes often use it to hide. Anybody going outdoors is encouraged to use mosquito repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Mosquito larvicide can be purchased at local hardware stores and home stores and residents can use it in any standing water in their yards or on their property.
Report your damage
City of Harlingen officials have set up an email address at email@example.com where residents are being urged to share information about residential damage along with photos to help the city determine the extent of overall flood damage.
The email should include the property address.
Residents also can use the free City of Harlingen Mobile App, available for Android or Apple phones.
To file a damage report via the app, click on the + (plus) sign at the top of the screen and follow the prompts. You can add a picture, your contact information and then submit your request.