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What you should know about floods and then some.
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Levee incomplete leaving community vulnerable to flooding
Mar 06, 2014

Flooding is a real concern for Hidalgo County officials as hurricane season approaches.

Especially in areas like Penitas where Elizabeth Garcia lives.

"I worry about hurricanes and if my home would be flooded," she said.

Garcia lives less than a mile away from a wall that doubles as a border fence and a levee.

It's the one thing that separates her home from the Rio Grande.

There is about a 600 foot gap in the wall that was never completed.

This gap was an item on the county's agenda at the drainage district meeting Tuesday morning.

"There's a potential for FEMA to declare that area a flooding zone and decertify the levees and that would increase our insurance rates and nobody wants that," County Judge Ramon Garcia said.

Judge Garcia said in 2006 a portion of a $100 million bond election was set aside to build the wall in Penitas to protect the community from flooding.

He said flooding is a real threat, in 2010 Hurricane Alex dumped 2 feet of rain in northern Mexico causing high water levels in the Rio Grande.

According to Garcia, bridging the gap would cost up to $8 million more.

The money would have to be approved by voters, but until then, Garcia is hoping to get a temporary fix in time for the hurricane season.

"We would get clay and shore it up and it would cost about $700,000," he said.

The clay barrier would go in front of a pump station in Irrigation District 1.

It would act as a buffer between flood water and a neighborhood just on the other side.

Residents who live nearby say they want the wall completed.

"It would be great if they finished it, not only for me, but for my neighbors who are concerned too," Elizabeth said.

The agenda items concerning the levees were not discussed or approved during the meeting because the drainage district president was unable to attend.

The issue is set to be on the counties agenda, next drainage district meeting.