This article originally appeared in the Friday May 10, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
Following the flood in June 2018 that left 80 percent of Mission underwater, the county and city are taking action to prepare for hurricane season.
A joint meeting was held with the city council and the new drainage committee in Mission this past Wednesday.
Mayor Armando O’caña, Mayor Pro-Tem Norie Gonzalez Garza, council members Ruben Plata and Jessica Ortega-Ochoa and drainage committee members Ned Sheats (Chairman), Brenda Wilson (Secretary) and Ricardo Saldaña (Vice-Chairman) listened to presentations by Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 and TEDSI Infrastructure Group, which was recently awarded a contract to work on drainage for the city.
Hidalgo County passed Proposition A last year, which covered a $190 million drainage bond over 37 total projects. Hidalgo County Floodplain Manager Raul Sesin returned to Mission City Hall to give updates on the status of big projects being worked on in Mission currently.
Sesin said that in this point of Phase 1, the county has assessed what work needs to be done on the Mission Lateral, the Mission Inlet and what they refer to as the McAllen/Mission Lateral/Regular Drainage – the areas with some of the greatest impact last June. $20 million worth of improvements will be done in the Mission area.
“We’re moving very efficiently on this system,” Sesin said.
The projects will include improvements on pipe structures, six proposed additional water detention facilities and lowering ditches in order to make room for more water.
“The channel itself will be fully widened and some areas will double in capacity, some areas will triple in capacity,” Sesin said. “There’s a lot of area we can work within to expand the channel for conveyance and capacity.”
Sesin noted that managing the water so it doesn’t negatively impact anyone in the area is the most important part of all the drainage projects the county is working on.
“We are proposing multiple structures in certain areas, improving existing structures and leaving structures in place but adding capacity,” Sesin said. “The idea is to efficiently move the water through our system, but at the same time we want to create the detention facilities and widen the system so it can move its way down and not adversely affect someone.”
Each project’s construction will also be broken up into sections, the first of which (from Bensten Rd. to Bryan Rd.) will hopefully be completed in 90 days. Sesin showed models highlighting the areas most affected during the flooding last year and how the improvements will impact them in a positive way.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” Sesin said. “We’re very detailed in our evaluation, our consultants have looked at it and we’ve put a lot of hours into this.”
Drainage Committee Chairman Sheats said he was sure that what the presentation covered would be effective at what Sesin was saying it would accomplish, but he wanted to ensure that the North/South drain was not so overwhelmed again to cause flooding and harm to homes in Mission.
Sheats and Drainage Committee Secretary Wilson experienced severe water damage last June.
“We don’t want to be in the same position of having additional flow coming in from the west and no way to get it out,” Sheats said.
Sesin assured Sheats that anything necessary for a 100-year rain would be contained in the improved channels.
While there is still land that the county needs to acquire to get certain areas completed later, they are already working on making that happen.
“I think Mission could definitely make more of a requirement for linear widening of existing systems, detention facilities, kind of adopting some of the things McAllen has done,” Sesin said. “I think it’s a great step in the right direction.”
City Engineer J.P. Terrazas also spoke during the joint meeting, and mentioned some of the current work the city is doing to further prepare for future rain. He mentioned several of the neighborhood drainage structures in Mission that have been assessed and cleared of debris.
“We need to move water in a systematic way from the city of Mission to the Gulf of Mexico,” Mayor O’caña said. “And we need to join forces [with the county] on this.”