Weslaco Woman Skeptical of City's Steps to Halt Flooding

4 years 3 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, June 21 2017 Jun 21, 2017 June 21, 2017 4:42 PM June 21, 2017 in News

WESLACO – Weslaco leaders said problems with flooding in streets and homes are a thing of the past. A woman who lives in that city, just feet away from a drainage ditch, said she'll believe it when she sees it. 

An October 2015 storm overwhelmed Weslaco's drainage system and led to flooding. Anna Barrientes said the storm was a nightmare for her. She moved into a Weslaco home 19 years ago to take care of her father. 

She said during the 2015 floods, she had to keep her eyes on the drainage ditch next door. 

"It did fill up almost to the rim and I was scared because we were stuck here. So that was scary because I had my dad," she said.

Barrientes said her property flooded after the storm. She and her father had to evacuate with help from a friend.

"I had to call someone who had a big high truck to get me out of here, because I couldn't get out in my car," she added.

Her father has since passed away, but she has stayed in the home by herself. The home is uninsured.

Now, Barrientes said she is concerned about her safety and the possibility of losing the house to floods.

"That's still with me, the fear that that thing can overflow and we can get the water over here," she said.

Barrientes said she hopes the city's work on drainage ditches will prevent floods in the future.  

Weslaco Public Works Director Pete Garcia said his department is using an excavator to widen the ditches.  He said the city is testing to make sure flood gate valves at the end of the ditches are working properly. He mentioned he's seen improvements in the city's ability to handle rains in the last year. 

"We had some rain, not as much as a year and a half ago, but we had some rain. And, it's pretty much a gradual flow. We've been cleaning the pipes under the bridges," Garcia said.

Garcia hopes the widening of the ditches will make the area a flood-free zone. He also said illegal dumping has clogged up drainage ditches in Weslaco in the past.  But he said the city has recently cleaned the trash out of drainage pipes. 

According to the city's public works department, the city has approximately 25 miles of drainage ditches going through rural, residential and commercial areas. The ditches vary in size. A standard main drainage ditch is approximately 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep.

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