Texas Land Commissioner asks HUD for RGV disaster designation

Thunderstorms late Monday night dumped as much as 13 inches of rain over western Willacy County, western Cameron County and the eastern part of Hidalgo County, sending water into homes, covering cars and flooding streets as residents tried to pull out of the worst flooding in years. By ERNIE J. GARRIDO, VALLEY MORNING STAR

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush asked HUD for a disaster recovery designation to help the Rio Grande Valley rebuild following a 500-year thunderstorm that pounded the area in June.

The torrential downpour broke rainfall records dating back 100 years, with up to a foot of water dropped in less than six hours time, Bush said in a letter he sent to Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Bush requested the designation be applied to congressional appropriations of Community Development Block Grants, arguing the storm mirrored another 500-year weather event that struck the region in June 2018, for which HUD earmarked $46 million in recovery efforts.

“The lower Rio Grande Valley has endured back-to-back flood disasters,” Bush said about Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties. “Many of the communities in these counties are still attempting to recover from the 2018 flooding event when severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall inundated them again in June 2019.”

The Hidalgo County Precinct 1 substation office, which was hit hard in June 2018, is a clear example of the work and time it has taken to rebuild since the first storm.

“Construction is set to begin on a new Precinct 1 Substation Office for Tax, Motor Vehicle, Planning, and Health departments in Weslaco to replace the one lost to storm and flood damage from (the) 500-year torrential rain event in June 2018,” the county announced Monday.

Bush also noted that President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for the three counties July 17, and asked Carson to keep in mind the “impact of repeat flooding” and the “significant toll” it takes on storm survivors, mentally as well as physically.

“I want to thank you and your department for all you have done for the storm victims of Texas, and I look forward to continuing to work with you as we help Texas recover from the June 2019 severe weather event,” he concluded.