Posted: Mar 19, 2012 8:00 PM
Updated: Mar 19, 2012 6:34 PM
Hurricane season is less than three months away. Are you ready? A change to the Valley's flood map is rallying more help during emergencies.
A few years ago, the federal government said our levee system wasn't up to par. Since then, there have been major upgrades to those levees. The water blockades are now certified to with stand a 100-year flood. This means the Red Cross can step in sooner to help you.
Archie Smith knows now what he should've done in 2008 when Hurricane Dolly hit the Valley.
He and his neighbors in San Carlos were pushed out of their homes by the rising water.
"On the next street over, they had boats. That's how bad it was," says Smith.
"We just had to leave and go find a place to stay," says Smith.
He lived with his sister-in-law for a while.
"A month and a half," says Smith.
His wife Alma can still feel the water hit right above her knees.
"It was hard, depressing," says Alma.
Hopefully they won't have to go through that again. The Red Cross can now step in to help run local shelters. The local chapter just got the OK from the national chapter, which monitors regional flood maps. Our flood maps just got a makeover. The International Boundary and Water Commission certified more than 32 miles of levees earlier this month.
"They've made it a lot easier to provide shelters in a category 1 or 2 storm along the coastal communities, which would be Cameron County, Hidalgo County and Willacy County," says Tony Pena, state emergency management coordinator.
Pena says the boost in aid will help. Volunteers with local organizations like Catholic charities and the Salvation Army will also make a difference.
"Run shelters, man shelters, serve food, volunteers that will help them raise money, that's a necessity. That's a year-round necessity," says Pena.
"If I can help somebody, I would volunteer," says Alma.
Alma Smith and her husband endured the struggle after the storm. They don't want anyone else to have to do the same.
You should get flood insurance if your neighborhood is known to hold water. Experts say you should sign up for insurance at least 30 days before hurricane season. After June 1, you can't.