HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Harlingen City Commission is taking action to fine drivers who plow through flooded streets, creating wakes that threaten damage to property owners.
On Wednesday, the commission discussed and approved the first reading of a new ordinance that would allow fines for drivers whose vehicles create wakes on flooded streets, whenever water is 6 inches or deeper on the center of a roadway.
Residents say they hope this ordinance motivates drivers to slow down in order to prevent property damages.
“People tend to go through a flooded place where it’ll come out and spread and actually get into people’s yards or even in their homes depending how flooded it is,” said Efrain Escobedo, a Harlingen resident of 12 years.
City Commissioner Daniel Lopez brought the issue to the commission’s attention after visiting areas that flood most often in Harlingen.
And at Wednesday’s meeting, a local church spoke out about the damages that can happen when drivers create wakes whenever water gets too deep on the roadways.
“It’s difficult, but we’ve learned to cope, we’ve learned to adapt, and we do the best that we can to set up with sandbags, plywood in the doors,” said Julian Garza, a local pastor. “It’s caused a lot of damage to our tile, to our carpet, and we got to be fixing it and doing upgrades pretty often.”
Although the commission approved of the ordinance, Harlingen’s city manager said the rule would be difficult to enforce.
“Because we have to see them actually creating the wake or at least have video evidence that they did,” City Manager Gabriel Gonzales said. “But I think it’s something that if its on the books we can actually help prevent a wake being created.”
According to the agenda packet, fines could range from $100 to $500.