After gathering information from people all over the Rio Grande Valley affected by the floods two weeks ago, the counties of Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy, Starr and Zapata have officially passed the $38 million threshold required for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to send aid.
According to Mission Mayor Armando O’caña and City Manager Martin Garza, Jr., the five counties have reported $39 million in damages due to the severe rainfall in the Valley. The flooding that resulted from the rain displaced families from their homes and caused thousands of dollars in property damages to homes, businesses and public spaces.
“We want to applaud the efforts of the people that submitted the applications to the City of Mission,” Garza said. “We received a lot of their information, the damages, the estimates, which plays a big role in making sure that we met that threshold.”
No word has been heard from FEMA as to when assistance may be sent, but families could receive up to $33,000 depending on the extent of the reported destruction. The counties had to meet a threshold of $38 million to receive aid.
“It’ll provide individual assistance to our citizens,” O’caña said. “It’ll also give us public assistance for our municipalities.”
President Donald Trump must declare the area as a federal disaster, as requested by Governor Greg Abbott who signed a proclamation after learning about the floods and what effect they had in the area.
The City of Mission has been working on getting a ten-year comprehensive drainage plan after requesting proposals from engineering firms. Once proposals have been evaluated, the city can hire an engineer as well as three to four residents to look at possible improvements and come up with a comprehensive assessment of the area.
“We already had a consultation meeting with the Hidalgo County Drainage District,” O’caña said. “We want to do a two-year joint effort to expand our drainage system.”
According to the city manager, department heads in Mission have been working closely with the city’s Emergency Management Coordinator James Cardoza to ensure public damages were also reported.
“I also want to give a thank you to first responders in the County of Hidalgo and the State of Texas for their immediate response to our needs,” O’caña said.
While it has not been announced or formally confirmed, the city sent a letter to County Judge Ramon Garcia requesting that Mission be a hub for FEMA when they arrive to the RGV.
“We want to provide assistance not only to Mission residents, but to any other communities reporting damages west of Mission,” Garza said.
Mayor O’caña said that he has been receiving calls, text messages and emails with pictures and videos detailing what various residents went through during the storm.
“Every text, every picture, every video that was sent to me will be used in the comprehensive assessment of the drainage plan that we’re going to develop,” O’caña said. “They need to stand by for future information.”
People who were affected by the flood and have had any damage in their home or property should take pictures and save them. Residents should also repair what they can so any mold or insects in the premises will not spread, and save all receipts having to do with the costs that resulted from the flood.