As hurricane season nears, Hidalgo County officials warn of potential flooding due to levee breaches
As hurricane season nears, Hidalgo County officials are warning of possible flooding in surrounding communities after a halt in border wall construction.
The county is now racing to see who will fix the problem.
At a press conference Wednesday, Hidalgo County officials said they are concerned four breaches in the dirt levee along the Rio Grande would cause flooding in portions of southwest Hidalgo County in the event a hurricane comes to the Rio Grande Valley.
“With these openings here, it would spread,” said Hidalgo County Drainage District 1 Manager Raul Sesin. “It could run through the communities here locally.”
When the Trump administration started to work on the border wall, several breaches were made in the dirt levee. But after border wall construction was halted under the Biden administration, the breaches remain.
Local officials say they have reached out to the International Boundary Water Commission and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to close up the gaps in the levee.
USIBWC Public Affairs Officer Lori Kuczmanski said in an emailed statement that the commission is "very concerned about the existing levee gaps in the Lower Rio Grande Valley" and "has reiterated to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection the immediate importance of providing flood protection to the local community prior to hurricane season which begins June 1."
Editor’s note: On Friday, April 16, after this story aired, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers provided the following statement:
"In support of CBP's border infrastructure program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing design and construction support. As part of this CBP effort, some IBWC levees in the Lower Rio Grande Valley have been excavated where required for border infrastructure construction.
In 2019, before any excavation began, CBP, IBWC and USACE approved and continue to validate emergency flood protection plans for flood risk reduction during construction. CBP, the IBWC and USACE continue to remain in constant communication about the condition of the excavated levees.
DHS is developing a plan in accordance with the Presidential Proclamation. USACE remains poised to execute DHS's direction when received."