This article originally apperared in the Friday, June 29, 2018 issue of the Progress Times
During this week’s council meeting, mayor and council approved an authorization to request proposals for engineering services regarding drainage assessment in wake of the flood last week.
“In the scope of work, please add that whoever you hire do interviews with people,” Mayor Armando O’caña said. “They need to come up with the status of our drainage system currently and give us their recommendations for the future.”
Mission residents spoke about how the city handled the rain and flood that hit the area last Thursday. A couple of citizens said they were happy with how the city acted during the event, and were glad that evacuations were made thanks to the local government.
“I’m just here to say thank you today,” Isauro Treviño said on behalf of his parents, who were evacuated from their home in Mission on Thursday. “I was not surprised that by 11 o’clock, under the supervision of the Mayor’s office and Martin’s [Garza, Jr., the city manager] office, we already had a boat in front of my parent’s house. We don’t see that every day in south Mission. About eight families got evacuated, we just want to say thank you for that.”
Treviño said that after calling the city manager, they were able to get boats out to his parents’ neighborhood and rescue some of the elderly residents.
There were other residents, however, like Pam and Albert Garcia, who were not satisfied with how the city has responded to the incident after it occurred. The couple, who live on the corner of Stewart Road and Pamela Drive, said their front yard and backyard “was a river.”
“We’ve been here for 19 years, I’m a Mission resident,” Pam Garcia said. “We’re faithful to Mission, we’re taxpayers, we don’t have contacts like that gentleman [Treviño] does, we don’t know anybody on the board.”
Pam Garcia said that it is well known in Mission that Stewart Rd. floods, even if there is only a little rain.
“What are we going to do when there’s a hurricane?” Pam Garcia asked. “We’re in a well-developed neighborhood. Our streets weren’t blocked, we had continuous traffic there that pushed water on fences.”
According to Pam Garcia, no one living on Stewart has wooden fences anymore due to cars pushing the floodwater onto their property.
“There was no traffic control,” Pam Garcia said. “Those cars that were stranded were floating. That could cause injury to our homes and our loved ones. What are we going to do?”
She said that sandbags were not distributed in time, and therefore no one in her area had time to prepare for the rainfall. The Garcias called for change, and said that they did not want to lose their home.
Arturo Campos, who lives next to the couple, also said that he had not received adequate assistance with the damages caused by this storm. Since moving to Mission 18 years ago, he said he has had to repair his fence four times due to flood damage.
“Similar to all our neighbors, I lost my fence,” Campos said. “That comes out of our pocket, which I’ve done before in previous floods. And a lot of that comes from not blocking or patrolling the flow of traffic. You’ve got these big trucks coming through like nothing at all, and what do they do? They create those waves.”
While the mayor and city council cannot respond to citizens participation, O’caña said that they were doing all they could for the city and her citizens.
“Our city manager is available for you and is able to discuss the issues,” O’caña said. “But we are going to address the issues. Stewart is one of our priorities.”
As stated by City Manager Martin Garza, Jr. and Mayor O’caña during a press conference held Monday, Mission residents need to fill out a form found on the city website reporting all the damages to property and assets.
With these reports, the city can send accurate information to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and get assistance.
As a result of Dr. John Guerra’s resignation, the council appointed Hector Moreno to replace his vacant seat in the Planning and Zoning Commission. Moreno said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve the City of Mission.
City Council also approved Resolution #1556, designating the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization members for the City of Mission. According to O’caña, this is “crucial to the future of Mission.”
“Each governmental entity is represented by three members of the entity, one of whom shall be the Mayor by virtue of his position,” City Secretary Anna Carrillo said. “All three represent the governmental entity in any and all NPO [Non-Profit Organization] policy committee meetings, but only one may exercise the right to vote.”
The primary alternate was Martin Garza, Jr., and the proxy was Roberto Salinas, the Public Works director.
After O’caña turned to the council and asked if any council members wanted to be involved, Jessica Ortega-Ochoa and Gus Martinez said they would like to, and after no discussion, both were appointed.
The council approved the resolution, replacing Martin Garza Jr., with Ortega-Ochoa as the primary alternate and Roberto Salinas with Martinez as the proxy.