July 22, 2008

PUB Readies Resacas for Floodwaters

By Emma Perez-Trevino, The Brownsville Herald, Texas

Jul. 22--The Brownsville Public Utilities Board has been draining Resaca de la Guerra that meanders through the city since Friday as flood control measures are undertaken in anticipation of heavy rains.

"We're getting the city ready for possible flooding," said Sgt. Jimmy Manrrique, public information officer for the city's Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

"We don't want the resacas to get any higher," said PUB public information officer Lucy Hernandez.

The resaca runs through numerous areas of the city including Quail Hollow, Valley International Country Club, behind Hanna High School, and the Land O' Lakes and Home Depot areas.

Resacas, PUB data points out, are also known as oxbow lakes. They are remnant river channels that aid in flood control and water storage.

Hernandez noted that utility officials held two meetings Monday preparing for menacing weather that threatens the Texas coastline.

Staff members like Hernandez. who had been away from the city vacationing or on business trips, headed back to Brownsville on Monday.

But preparations began days prior.

Draining of resacas started Friday and a generator to provide backup for PUB's water-drainage pumps on East Avenue in the Southmost area arrived Saturday in the event of power outages.

When PUB CEO John Bruciak decides to initiate the utility company's emergency plan, all crews are on standby and vacations and leaves are cancelled. "I'm on my way back," Hernandez said Monday.

Manrrique said Monday that officials are working on contingency plans for opening shelters. Sandbag sites have been released.

Able residents that do not have special needs will be able to go to the sites and fill up to 20 sandbags. Eight filled bags will be provided if available. Special needs residents will be provided with filled sandbags. Manrrique said residents must take their own shovel and show proof of residency.

Meanwhile, city crews are testing equipment, including generators for water drainage pumps and are clearing ditches and water drainage sites and street gutters of debris. Residents are also urged to clear drainage areas at their properties of debris to prevent water from accumulating.

Also, meetings scheduled this week were cancelled. These include the planned sessions of the Capital Improvement Advisory Committee, Animal Regulation and Care Facility, Greater Brownsville Incentive Corp., and Charter Review Committee.

Manrrique said that Mayor Pat Ahumada encourages residents to monitor cable access Channel 12 for the very latest information on the city's response to the weather threat.

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