Hidalgo Co. Residents Call for Flood Control in Colonias
NEAR EDINBURG – Several people living in Rio Grande Valley colonias said their county isn’t doing enough to protect them from severe weather.
Many residents of Hidalgo County, like Alberta Ramirez, were affected by last year’s flooding. She lives off Tower and Owassa Road near Edinburg.
She said it doesn’t take much for her property and the entire colonia she lives in to flood.
“The fire department came and rescued the families because water was getting inside the homes,” she said.
Ramirez is still making improvements to her yard in preparation for the next storm. However, she said she wants Hidalgo County to do the same.
Ramirez and some neighbors took their argument to several county commissioners. The county agreed and said changes are on the way.
Hidalgo County Drainage Director Raul Sesin said developers are only required to build neighborhoods that can handle a 10-year storm, a storm that has a 10 percent chance of happening every year.
He said the county plans to require developers build new systems that can handle a 25-year storm.
“A lot of the developers that have been doing development are aware of it and have implemented, in some cases, the 25-year detention. But the requirement currently is 10-year,” he said.
Sesin said the change will mean more water-holding areas and more storm sewer systems. He said the process to fix the entire county will take a long time.
“Definitely, we can get there. We need to work on our main system as well to accommodate those waters,” he said.
Ramirez insisted flooding is an inconvenience that can lead to health problems.
“When there’s standing water, we have a lot of mosquitoes. And today with the Zika problem, we worry more,” she said.
Sesin said the county has a drainage advisory board made up of people from across the county. He said the commissioners will likely add people from Hidalgo County colonias to help address the drainage problems in their area.
Hidalgo County is working on several drainage projects in response to the 2015 flooding. The May and July storm was what the county calls a 100-year flood.
Sesin said the system just can’t handle that much water. A 100-year flood means there’s a one percent chance of that kind of event happening any giver year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
To compare, last year’s flooding in Louisiana’s was a 1,000-year storm.