Although a reported tornado touched down in an area near the Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport early Sunday morning causing some damage, the city did not experience Hurricane Hanna’s wrath as other parts of the Rio Grande Valley.
Brownsville Fire Chief Jarrett Sheldon said his department responded to several calls pertaining to power lines down, sparking power poles, downed trees and car accidents, in addition to medical emergencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also responded to the tornado call.
“We were pretty busy … we did have that tornado damage out towards the airport area that we responded to,” Sheldon said. “We saw a lot of trees down, a lot of power lines down. We did see a couple of houses with their roofs torn off or parts of their roofs torn off. We did see an older model RV travel trailer that was flipped upside,” he said.
The damage from the tornado ranged from the airport area down to Austin Road and Iowa Road and Sandy Lane.
“It was a good mile long and it seemed like the tornado jumped around a little bit. We were able to see the path of the destruction. Fortunately nobody was injured and no lives were lost,” Sheldon said.
Despite heavy rains, the department only responded to one water rescue call.
“We were monitoring different areas and in communication with our public works department and BPUB, so we were able to really work together to help alleviate the flooding issues,” the fire chief said.
Hanna dropped up to 15 inches of rain in some areas of the Valley, leaving behind flooded streets, neighborhoods and power outages.
Palm fronds were scattered across city streets in Brownsville and some resacas overflowed, while others reached their capacities.
Work crews with the Brownsville Public Utilities Board were busy working on power poles and power lines that had been damaged by the strong winds.
Residents were spotted driving around taking photos of the resacas that had been reached their capacities.
On his Facebook Page, Brownsville resident Joe Treviño, posted a video of the area the suspected tornado hit early Sunday morning.
Treviño said he was sitting inside his car when it felt like a tornado was about to touch down.
“ I felt this tornado that was going to hit down,” Treviño said.
In his video, there were toppled trees and fences that had been torn down.
Joseph Tomaselli, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service on Brownsville, on Sunday said a team from the NWS would be going out to the area where the reported tornado hit, to verify that is was an actual tornado.
Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez on Sunday issued a disaster declaration, which will provide homeowners access to federal and state resources to help with damage.
“ The City of Brownsville in coordination with the Brownsville Public Utilities Board and our city’s emergency response departments have been working to address the safety concerns of our community,” Mendez said in a press release. “The welfare of our residents is always our highest priority; we also ask the community to stay safe and please avoid traveling in flooded areas.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and President Trump granted his federal emergency declaration he submitted on Saturday as Hurricane Hanna approached Texas.
Although Hanna had already made its way to Mexico, the NWS reports there’s a 50% percent chance of thunderstorms today and tonight, and a 60 % chance of thunderstorms on Tuesday for the Valley.
Tomaselli encourages residents to get rid of any standing water in plant holders, tires or buckets to prevent mosquito larve from forming.
He added the Valley will probably be dealing with mosquitos for a couple of weeks.