Cameron County deploys pump trucks to flooded areas

Amalia Barajas stands outside her home watching as the water slowly recedes Monday on Agave near Laureles. Barajas said that most of the flooding happened to her property on Saturday after hours of rainfall from Hurricane Hanna. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Colonias north of Los Fresnos experienced significant flooding over the weekend as Hurricane Hanna’s powerful rain bands hit the South Texas coast.

On Monday, just a few blocks past Laureles, homes and vehicles stood surrounded by a lake of standing water.

Crews with the Cameron County Emergency Management and Fire Marshal services were working full-time to pump out affected areas across the county, according to Fire Marshal Juan Martinez.

Victor Salazar, a resident of Mescal Street, stood on his front porch looking out at his yard, now a foot-deep lake of rain water stretching most of his block. Across the street, a neighbor’s sedan was submerged in two feet of flood water.

“The rain started on Saturday night. When the wind started picking up, the rain started picking up,” he said. “On Sunday morning, this is what we woke up to.”

The family dealt with similar flooding a few years back and expects the water to drain, ideally before more rain arrives.

Salazar said roughly 2 inches of water entered his shed, but since his home is raised several feet off the ground, the family was fortunate not to see water enter. Several neighbors worked outside and also confirmed that no water entered the homes despite water collecting outside.

According to Martinez, crews on Monday were hard at work draining water from roadways and properties. Authorities must first respond to the most serious cases, which Martinez compared to triaging at emergency rooms.

Areas like Laureles and nearby colonias that saw significant flooding but no immediate property damage will have to wait for floodwaters to pull back naturally unless inclement weather arrives beforehand.

“We’re trying to address every single issue that we have at this point. Every pump that has been purchased by Cameron County is currently deployed and operating,” said Martinez, working at a pump site in the Santa Rosa area late Monday afternoon.

“We’re operating in at least eight different locations. We have also ordered and already have working Movac vacuum pump trucks. Those are currently pulling out water from the Santa Rosa area. We’re trying to address every issue as best as possible, and we hope we’re going to put a dent in it soon.”

Martinez explained that another big concern the county must address is water and drainage moving from Hidalgo into Cameron County. “We’re trying to pump it out as much as we can,” he said.

“We’re having to clear the areas that have the greatest need first. If there’s water threatening to get into a home, that’s where we’re pumping. If there’s water on the roads, and if there’s water on the property but it’s not close to getting in — we’re thinking gravity is going to have it take its course. We have to take the ones that have the greatest safety issues first, then handle everything else,” Martinez said.