Despite pandemic, South Texans must document storm damage precisely before FEMA steps in

When Gov. Greg Abbott toured the South Texas border region Tuesday he brought along the regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency who Abbott said was here “to see firsthand about the challenges that exist.” But on Wednesday, Hidalgo County officials put out a statement saying FEMA “has NOT arrived” to assist after Hurricane Hanna and that caused some confusion. So where is FEMA? And is the federal agency helping as thousands remain without electricity and homes remain flooded in the Rio Grande Valley? The short answer is yes. But it is very complicated and involves federal statutes and protocol, state guidance and a lot of local self-reporting of damage to document affected areas, which is tricky especially in this low-income border region that is one of the nation’s worst hot spots for COVID-19 right now.

Hanna smacks South Texas, bringing Flash Flood Warnings

Hurricane Hanna, with winds of 90 mph, cut a swath through South Texas overnight, knocking out power, flooding roads and damaging structures in this border region that is already reeling from unprecedented COVID-19 deaths and a lack of resources to treat cases. Roads were blocked early Sunday and residents told not to leave their homes except to evacuate as rising waters rose to home fronts. Cars on streets were seen submerged and street signs toppled from the bands of wind and sheets of rain that pummeled the area for hour after hour. Howling winds screamed throughout the night, breaking windows on homes, sending palm tree fronds sailing like missiles, and even relocated a bent trampoline from one neighborhood to another in North McAllen, about 65 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. A tornado warning was issued for Hidalgo County on Sunday morning. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning until 3:00 p.m.

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