Frustrated flood victims vent over drainage problems

SANTA ROSA — Carmelita Rivera expressed her frustration since her house was “totaled’ by the June 24 thunderstorm.

“I had asked to speak to someone about the drainage system by my house before the storm but I was told that nothing could be done,” the 52-year-old La Feria resident said at a town hall meeting last night.

“I feel like pipes are not being cleaned correctly and water is not being drained the way it should be. It would have been a good gesture if they would have visited us when we were suffering but they didn’t. I really hope they will help and not just say it,” she said.

At last night’s town hall, held at Quintanilla’s event center, County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. and County Commissioner Gus Ruiz discussed with residents possible solutions for their losses and flooding.

Information about problems with the drainage system on Tio Cano Road was provided by Cameron County engineer Paulina Vega, as well as Juan Martinez from Cameron County Emergency Management Service.

Even though the meeting was intended to explain the reasons behind the flooding and then follow up with questions, some residents appeared to be upset they were not being allowed to vent right away.

From the frustration, heated exchanges arose between some of the residents and Trevino.

“Much of the county is not covered by drainage systems but we have a legislation hoping to pass to cover it, but enough resources have not been spent for the last 10 or 20 years on drainage,” Trevino said.

Juan V. Garcia from CASA Engineering in Harlingen attended the meeting to propose solutions and get feedback to use for his master’s degree class project.

“The first step in addressing this flood crisis is having a year-around maintenance program at the city level and county level. Let’s give our drainage system the ability to work to its fullest potential and in order to do so they have to be completely clean, no tires, no clogged pipes,” Garcia said.

“There are a series of regional projects approved by the state and available in the Arroyo Colorado watershed protection plan, however no one has been able to provide proper funding for them,” he said.

After Vega was introduced to explain facts about Tio Cano Road being a lake in the past, residents got more frustrated because their questions had not yet been answered.

Most expressed concern over their property not being taken care of. But not everyone was frustrated.

Josue Aranday, a La Feria, said he did not feel frustrated, yet he did not lose as much property as others.

“I understand why they are frustrated, but we have been able to recover. But I think the meeting was not held the way it could have been. But I do think they tried to provide us with information, but they were not ready to answer all their questions they had,” Aranday said.