Cameron County escapes worst with Hanna

Cameron County dodged a bullet over the weekend with respect to Hurricane Hanna, though residents of Hidalgo County weren’t so lucky.

That’s according to Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr., who spoke about the effects of the storm during a Monday press conference.

“While we do have flooding, I think we’re fortunate that the storm didn’t bring major flooding and no loss of life,” he said. “I know our friends in Hidalgo are dealing with a lot flooding, but I have not been made aware of any loss of life yet, so that is good.”

About 45,000 utility customers were left without power Sunday morning, however, including some 3,000 Brownsville Public Utilities Board customers who were without electricity for a short time. San Benito also suffered power outages and downed power lines. Treviño credited Los Fresnos Fire Chief Gene Daniels for securing the area around a live wire down on a metal fence.

“My thanks go out to Chief Daniels,” he said. “He may have saved quite a few lives that day.”

Harlingen had a high-voltage line go down at East Harrison Avenue and South 10th Street, as well as road closures due to flooding in multiple locations. San Benito, Olmito, Primera and Rio Hondo also experienced numerous road closures due to flooding. Other roads were partially blocked by debris. Palm Valley had severe flooding. As of the press conference, pumps were still at work in a Los Fresnos neighborhood hit hard by flooding. Still, the county’s flood-prone areas weren’t affected nearly as much as during the record-breaking floods of June 2018, he said.

“For the most part the pumps worked,” Treviño said. “But the rain wasn’t as bad as it could have been in some flood-prone areas. The problem is in northern Cameron County much of the runoff from our neighbors to the west in Hidalgo will be making its way through our system. So those areas in La Feria, Santa Rosa are not in the clear yet because of the fact that we continue to receive receding waters. And because this storm made it into Mexico we can anticipate more water for the Rio Grande, which will raise the level.”

There were only three vehicular rescues this time compared to 600 in June 2018, he noted. While the Red Cross scrambled to find volunteers to staff the county’s two emergency shelter domes, as of press time exactly one family had sought shelter in either of them, the one located in La Feria. Treviño said he thinks families opted to ride out the storm rather than take a chance on catching coronavirus from other families.

Damage to county parks was minimal, though disaster declarations filed by the county and Gov. Greg Abbott means the county should be able to receive FEMA funds for what damage did occur, he said. There were also reports of a small tornado that damaged the roof of a structure near Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport.

Now that the reality of hurricane season has sunk in with the arrival of Hanna, and another storm forming off the coast of Africa that could wind up in the Gulf of Mexico, everyone should have their hurricane kits assembled, Treviño said.

“I think we’re fortunate in Cameron County that there wasn’t more rain and more damage, but that’s not to say that in the next one we’ll be as fortunate,” he said.

sclark@brownsvilleherald.com