Following the flooding that occurred in the city June 20, a repeat of heavy rains this week has many Mission residents upset and worried about what the city is doing to assess drainage and prevent future damages.
During the citizens participation of this week’s city council meeting, 13 Missionites took the podium to tell their stories and ask for help since rain began falling again Sunday evening. Residents all lived along Stewart Rd., between Business 83 and Mile 2.
“I know when situations like this happen, the city is spread thin with employees, police and firefighters,” Leopoldo Garza said. “What we want to do in our neighborhood is supplement the officers or firemen or city workers that respond to our area by helping put out the barriers.”
Leopoldo Garza said the people in his neighborhood want to help the city in any way they can in order to minimize any damages in result of heavy rainfall. He added they wanted to “be part of the solution.”
Several Mission residents blame the drainage issues in city infrastructure for the damages, and said the city needs to respond to those issues first and foremost.
Tony Cordova said that the previous administration spent $5 million to install larger drainage pipes to run under Stewart Rd. According to him, it hasn’t helped with the flooding at all.
“I am just now getting my house back together [following June 20],” Cordova said. “The 16-inch rain, I can understand that you don’t have any control of that. Nobody has any control over that. But last night we had a 4-inch rain, and the same problem occurred.”
Cordova said that while it didn’t flood his home, the rain that occurred Sunday evening almost did. Because of hurricane season, and storms are continuing to be predicted in the Rio Grande Valley, he wanted answers.
Susan Garza, who said she lost everything in the flood, is unsure if she should even begin the rebuilding process on her home because of the state of the streets.
“There’s absolutely no drainage,” Susan Garza said. “I’m getting all of the McAllen landfill’s water, everything that’s going down Stewart Rd., it’s all going down there. I’m just asking for y’all’s help.”
Tony and Zelda Guerrero, who live on Stewart Rd., lost their home and two vehicles during the flood in June.
The Guerreros have been living in Edinburg while getting their home repaired and their appliances replaced. Zelda Guerrero said it was frustrating to see all the new things they just installed in their home potentially be ruined again.
“It was devastating to watch everything that we worked so hard for and lose it so quickly,” Zelda Guerrero said. “Last night was unacceptable. The city has done nothing to write any sort of drainage resolution.”
She continued to say that it shouldn’t happen to anyone in the city. She told the council that as city leaders, it was their responsibility to take care of Mission residents and the city.
“I have called multiple times in the last five years for barricades,” Zelda Guerrero said. “No one can bring me barricades because where are they? Oh, wait a minute, they’re on Shary Rd., Stewart Rd. and Glasscock. I’m sorry, but I don’t live in the fancy neighborhoods, I live in a normal neighborhood because I’m a middle class person.”
Mission residents like Claudia Vasquez and Lisa McDonald spoke to the council about the effect the flooding has had on their children, some of whom are experiencing anxiety and stress every time they hear thunder or it begins to rain.
Vasquez has two children, ages four and five, and said it was hard for them to see water flowing inside from “every place” in the house.
“Our four-year-old son calls our house ‘the flooded house,’” Vasquez said. “They’re scared. Last night after 45 minutes of rain, I walked to the middle of the street and water was up to my knees already.”
Vasquez said that any steady rainfall backs up quickly in her area.
“Whether it’s debris nobody picks up from the neighborhood, it’s getting pushed into the drainage,” Vasquez said. “We really need cleanup, if possible.”
Brenda Wilson lost scrapbooks she had been keeping with pictures and memories of her two grown sons since they were five years old. Her home flooded in 2004, 2008 and again in June of this year.
“I can’t keep doing it,” Wilson said. “Our homes over there are worth nothing, we can’t sell our home. Who wants to buy a home on 21st Street? Nobody.”
Wilson added that over the years this has been happening in Mission, nothing has changed.
“We keep hearing the people of Mission tell us they’re going to do something,” Wilson said. “Every time there’s clouds, we sit by our front doors and we pray that God will not let it rain. I don’t want to do that anymore.”
Others pointed out that they called the Public Works Department multiple times to no avail, and had not received a response by the time the city council meeting began.
“Nobody answers the phone,” Tony Guerrero said. “I met with Mr. [Robert] Salinas on June 24, he promised me that the drain that goes down the two drains that goes to our house would be taken care of. That was 70 days ago. Nothing ever happened.”
Council member Jessica Ortega-Ochoa said that she had also called Public Works Sunday evening with no answer.
She said she wanted to hold a workshop as soon as possible to address potential immediate solutions for any drainage issues.
“I want to assure the citizens of Mission that from now on, the Department of Public Works will be answering their phone,” Ortega-Ochoa said.