South Texas leaders, featuring Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, on Thursday, June 21, 2018, succeeded in their call for Gov. Greg Abbott to issue a state disaster declaration for Hidalgo County as a result of destructive flooding that has resulted from heavy rains which began on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.
The requested gubernatorial measure suspends any regulation or law that would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in responding to the estimated foot and more of rain which have fallen in Hidalgo County, according to a press release from the governor’s office, announced the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.
The declaration also suspends any laws that would slow up a state agency’s emergency response needed to protect life or property.
The flooding rainfall was fueled by an upper-level low-pressure system that was forecast to linger over eastern Texas through Thursday, June 21, 2018 according to the Weather Channel, which also explained “that low is interacting with widespread tropical moisture, leading to the development of numerous showers and thunderstorms.”
The Edinburg EDC, of which Joey Treviño is the Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, and Councilmember Jorge Salinas.
The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Councilmember Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Councilmember Salinas as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Molina and Mayor Pro Tem Torres as Members.
Abbott issued his state disaster declaration soon after requests were formally sent to him by the Edinburg mayor and two of its state lawmakers, paving the way for vital help in six counties: Aransas, Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces, San Patricio and Willacy counties.
Molina early Thursday, June 21, 2018, issued a Disaster Declaration for the City of Edinburg, and sent it to the governor’s office.
Locally and beyond, thousands of viewers have been able to keep up with the effects of the flooding in the Hidalgo County county seat by logging on to:
“There is widespread flooding across the city due to the current weather event. Please, stay off the streets. Driving is extremely dangerous right now,” the mayor said in his Thursday, June 21, 2018 announcement to residents via Facebook and on the city’s television channel. “Our Fire Department and Police Department are conducting rescue efforts across the city as motorists are becoming stranded in floodwaters and residents are trapped in their homes.”
All city crews on Thursday, June 21, 2018, had been dispatched and responding, added Cary Zayas, Edinburg’s Director of Public Information. “Please keep in mind, the grounds are saturated. The city has received an overwhelming amount of rain in a very short time. It will take time for the high waters to recede.”
Sand bags also were distributed at the Service Center located at 121 N. Doolittle Road.
The city had two shelters open as of Thursday afternoon, June 21, 2018: South Middle School, located at 601 W. Freddy Gonzalez Drive, and Monte Cristo Elementary School, located at 4010 N. Doolittle Road.
Molina recalled that when he was on the way to the center of city government Thursday morning, June 21, 2018, to help lead Edinburg’s emergency services, he saw key roadway systems in the city beginning to become overwhelmed by the often torrential rainfall.
“Just driving down to City Hall today, West University Drive, right in front of El Pato, Dairy Queen, and all of those businesses (across from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley), (the street was) beginning to flood. We also had the intersections of Sugar Road and Trenton Road getting a lot of water,” the mayor recalled.
Molina knew what was taking place “was a natural disaster – the rain had been coming down consistently, and is what caused this. It was not forecast to happen today.”
The Edinburg mayor also reported that the previous day – Wednesday, June 20, 2018 – Edinburg had rushed emergency response personnel to neighboring cities in Hidalgo County which were being deluged with flooding.
“We were assisting some of the other cities in Hidalgo County because they had it worse yesterday, in the Mercedes, Weslaco, Donna areas,” Molina explained. “We were out there helping them, but today (Thursday, June 21, 2018), we are manning our own fort here.”
Zayas noted that Edinburg firefighters, in their high-clearance vehicles, had been been “doing a lot of rescues, helping victims in that area for at least 10 to 12 hours, getting medical personnel from the hospital to help people in the Weslaco and Mercedes areas.”
Canales, whose House District 40 includes the majority of Edinburg, including The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its School of Medicine, helped emphasize the need for the governor to issue a disaster declaration for Hidalgo County.
“I am writing to request a state disaster declaration for Hidalgo County effective June 21, 2018 as a result of the severe storms and flooding that began June 19, 2018,” Canales stated in his letter to Abbott, dated Thursday, June 21, 2018. “On Tuesday of this week, a strong storm system brought showers and thunderstorms that continue to persist today. It has been reported that parts of Hidalgo County have received up to 15 inches of rain in a short time frame. This storm has led to severe flooding, resulting in significant damages and the loss of property.”
In addition to the Edinburg mayor, Canales noted that Hinojosa and Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García also had sought action by Abbott.
“Yesterday (Wednesday, June 20, 2018), Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García issued a proclamation declaring a local state of disaster as a result of recent storms,” Canales reported in his letter to the governor, which was delivered before Abbott made the emergency declaration.
“It is expected that the emergency response capacity will exceed the capability of local resources. As a result, I request that vital state resources be made available in an expedited manner to assist city and county governments to appropriately monitor risks, preserve life and property, and further implement preventive measures for residents, including potential sheltering operations,” Canales stated. “A swift and effective state response and assistance is necessary to ensure the safety of our citizens, and to mitigate property damage and lessen the damage of this disaster.”
On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, the county judge had signed a local disaster declaration asking the state for recovery assistance and submitted it to the governor.
“With the significant flooding that has occurred in Hidalgo County, a disaster declaration is certainly in order. Our residents and businesses need help getting their property repaired or restored as soon as possible so they can go about their lives. A disaster declaration will help our families with the stress they are under right now,” said Hinojosa. “I have been in contact with Hidalgo County leaders and Governor Abbott’s staff and we are ready to assist in any manner possible to make sure Hidalgo County residents receive the help they need at this time.”
Abbott’s disaster declaration follows follows:
TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME:
I, GREG ABBOTT, Governor of the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the severe weather and flooding event that began on June 19, 2018, and that continues, has caused widespread and severe property damage, and threatens loss of life, in Aransas, Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces, San Patricio and Willacy counties.
THEREFORE, in accordance with the authority vested in me by Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code, I do hereby declare a state of disaster in the previously listed counties.
Pursuant to Section 418.017 of the code, I authorize the use of all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions that are reasonably necessary to cope with this disaster.
Pursuant to Section 418.016 of the code, any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or any order or rule of a state agency that would in any way prevent, hinder or delay necessary action in coping with this disaster shall be suspended upon written approval of the Office of the Governor. However, to the extent that the enforcement of any state statute or administrative rule regarding contracting or procurement would impede any state agency’s emergency response that is necessary to protect life or property threatened by this declared disaster, I hereby authorize the suspension of such statutes and rules for the duration of this declared disaster.
In accordance with the statutory requirements, copies of this proclamation shall be filed with the applicable authorities.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and have officially caused the Seal of State to be affixed at my office in the City of Austin, Texas, this the 21st day of June, 2018.
For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com. Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, represents House District 40 in Hidalgo County, which includes portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr and Weslaco. He may be reached at his House District Office in Edinburg at (956) 383-0860 or at the Capitol at (512) 463-0426.