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MISSION — Bulldozers collected and moved piles of dirt in a major cleanup effort at Anzalduas Park this week as Hidalgo County Precinct 3 officials continue to get the Winter Texan attraction up and running again. Meanwhile, the local Riverside Club has re-opened its entertainment area to winter visitors.
Precinct 3 Park Director Sergio Saenz said the tedious work of moving the piles of sand and debris seems never-ending as portions of the park were overwhelmed this summer when U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission diverted floodwater to the Anzalduas. The park has remained closed to the public until county workers can not only clean up the mess left behind, but also repair and restore unsalvageable buildings. Workers move about 60 trucks of dirt a day in the park, Saenz estimated.
“Everything you can imagine landed in our park,” Saenz said as he walked through the mounds of loose sand. “Most of the park was underwater for more than a month.”
Signs of the water, which got as high as six feet, are evident with watermarks at the park’s office, restrooms and on a number of signs. In some areas where the sand isn’t completely removed, park tables are still surrounded by sand.
“All you could see is sand,” Saenz recalled of his first day back at the park once the floodwaters had receded.
For weeks, workers have transported dirt to areas of the park that needed to be leveled off. Meanwhile Federal Emergency Management Agency officials were at the park on Wednesday assisting officials in efforts and paperwork to redo pluming and restoration work in the park.
“My office is completely totaled,” Saenz said. “We’re just waiting and getting the park ready so we can get quotes to do repairs. It’s been a nightmare, but at least we’re getting something done here.”
A number of Winter Texans have been calling asking when they can get back into the park for bird watching, but Saenz asked the public to be patient, as the park can’t be re-opened until everything is repaired.
“We don’t want to pose any danger to park visitors,” he explained.
Local businesses near the Rio Grande have also spent months surveying their damage and working hard to re-open to accommodate Winter Texans. Near the park, the Riverside Club re-opened quietly last week following months of cleanup.
“It was long,” club owner Johnny Hart said with a laugh when asked about the process.
The club received about four feet of water in the club, destroying its dock and damaging its boat along with portions of the club damaged by sand and mud.
Hart estimated that most of the damage in the club had been repaired and estimated that his club would be 100 percent operational by 2011.
“At least our doors are open,” Hart said.
Winter Texan residents who have started to return to the Rio Grande Valley have been asking Hart about the hardships of getting his business back to life. Most of his customers are from the Midwest, like Iowa where major flooding had damaged homes and businesses.
“They now have a place to go since Pepe’s is still closed, so they’re happy we’re back up,” Hart said. “We’re rollin’.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.