Local leaders survey Hurricane Hanna’s damage

Courtesy photo Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez and Precinct 1 Commissioner David Fuentes took in an aerial view of eastern county damages following Hurricane Hanna on Monday, assessing and surveying the area in anticipation of Gov. Greg Abbott's visit Tuesday.

On the eve of Gov. Greg Abbott’s visit to assess Hurricane Hanna’s impact on the Rio Grande Valley, residents, cleanup crews and local leaders continued their own assessment of damages on Monday, as tens of thousands remained without power and many communities are still inundated in floodwater.

Officials such as Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina were not the exception, as he reported being without power at his residence since Saturday evening before it was restored Monday.

“That’s something special nowadays,” Molina said Tuesday after just discovering that his electricity had returned. “I know there’s a few residents who are still lacking light. That’s been one of the main complaints that we’ve been getting.”

The mayor said at least 80,000 residents were without power throughout the Valley as of press time Monday, citing conversations with Magic Valley Electric Cooperative.

“Of course, those numbers started diminishing as they started getting the trucks on the road,” Molina said Monday. And they did diminish.

According to Eladio Jaimez, communications consultant for AEP Texas, the number of power outages throughout the Valley had decreased from approximately 152,000 customers on Sunday morning to 57,000 by early Monday.

“We were able to restore about 95,000 on Sunday,” Jaimez said. “Today we had a crew coming in from Oklahoma and Louisiana and other parts of Texas to help us with the restoration process.”

There are also currently 22 intersections in Edinburg that are without electricity, according to Molina, who added that portable stop signs were installed at those locations.

“We ask the public to stay home if possible and avoid driving as city crews continue to work around the clock,” Molina said.

Over 300 households were also displaced as a result of the hurricane.

“They were able to be moved to safety by staying with a friend or family member,” Molina said. “They were also warned about taking safety measures dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic such as facial cover, social distancing and personal hygiene.”

The city of Edinburg has a helpline for citizens to report any damage in roadways or houses. Anyone who sees any damage is encouraged to call (956) 259-4357, or send an email to ediburghelp@cityofedinburg.com. Citizens are also encouraged to photograph any damage for documentation.

The Edinburg landfill, located at FM 2812 & Jasmine Road, will also be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday for residents to discard any brush, branches, furniture and debris. The service will be available at no cost to Edinburg residents.

Meanwhile, customers of Sharyland Water Supply are being urged to use water sparingly.

“We have lost power due to Hurricane Hanna at all of our facilities,” a water supply news release read. “We have limited capability to pump water in the distribution system. Please, please use water sparingly until further notice. The business office is temporarily closed due to water damage.”

In Weslaco, City Manager Mike Perez said the city was still gathering information in order to make an accurate assessment regarding the damage done there, but he was able to provide some details that helped paint a clearer picture of the situation in Weslaco.

One issue that continues to frustrate local officials is floodwater pushed into homes by vehicles.

“We’ve got some homes that have got some water in them,” Perez said Monday. “Some from the flood, and a lot from the waves caused by people traveling too fast in high-profile vehicles. We’re probably about 48 hours from being able to tell you what kind of damage we have.”

Perez said that city workers are having trouble reaching certain areas due to high water levels. He said that workers are having to wait for the water recede before they can attempt to reach these areas.

The city manager also said that there were at least 34 families or individuals who had to be rescued with high-profile vehicles.

“There weren’t any boat rescues. Everything was done with high-profile vehicles,” Perez said. “We couldn’t get to them with cars, but with military vehicles or high-profile vehicles, we were able to get stranded people out. As of (Monday) morning, we still had some (people in shelters), but I don’t know about this afternoon.

“We were trying to get people back to their homes. It may be another day or two before everybody moves out.”

These seven shelters remain open for displaced residents.

  • Palm Aire Hotel, located at 415 S. International Blvd. in Weslaco
  • McAllen Respite Center, located at 111 S. 15th St. in McAllen
  • The Salvation Army, located at 1600 N. 23rd St. in McAllen
  • The La Joya Youth Center, located at 604 Salomon Chapa Drive in La Joya
  • The Mercedes Dome located at 1202 N. Vermont Ave. in Mercedes (COVID-19 shelter)
  • The Development and Research Center located at 850 W. Dicker Road in Pharr (Pharr residents only)
  • Edcouch Elsa High School, located at Hwy 107 & Mile 4 Road West in Edcouch