Harlingen woman waiting on drainage repairs, considering moving out of city due to lack of confidence

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Hurricane season is here, and a local resident is not feeling confident in her city’s drainage.  

Mary Alice Tijerina lives off of Harlingen’s Paloma Ave. – an area that suffers from frequent flooding. She had the home rebuilt on stilts in the 90s to prevent water from entering the house. 

“I thought I was prepared, but with what’s been happening in the last few years, we have had more flooding than I’ve ever seen before,” said Tijerina. “It’s unreal when you get stuck inside your house for three days because you can’t take your car out. It’s crazy.” 

Though the house is by a canal, the water still nearly enters her home, and a recent flooding event has made the problem worse. A sinkhole formed a few yards in front of her home, which has led to the erosion of a pipe that helps carry the water into the canal. 

Tijerina has reported the issue and said city crews started working on the erosion but haven’t been by in over two weeks.  

“I’m screaming here; I need help,” said Tijerina. “I can’t afford to lose any more cars.” 

The property has been in Tijerina’s family since the 60s and while it holds special memories for her, she’s near the end of her rope and is considering leaving Harlingen. 

“We’ve talked about moving,” said Tijerina. “That’s our next step. 

“I don’t want to do that, I don’t. I was born and raised here and I love it, but I can’t do this. I can’t do the flooding anymore.” 

We reached out to the city about when the repairs will be complete. According to Public Relations Officer Irma Garza, city workers installed a new underground pipe on May 28 that should replace the presently eroded pipe. However, the original hasn’t been taken out, and the ground hasn’t been leveled because it’s still too wet.  

Tijerina said she feels they have neglected improving the city’s drainage.  

“Take care of the flooding first, that’s priority,” said Tijerina. “If you don’t have your home and your cars, you’re not going to be able to do the fun stuff anyway. Flooding first. Top priority. End of story.” 

Garza adds they are scheduled to finish the repairs this upcoming week, but with showers expected, it will likely be delayed again.  

During a recent special meeting, commissioners approved four drainage improvements projects utilizing $6 million from the American Rescue Plan. 

The improvements will take place at the following locations:

·       Jefferson Street- Storm Sewer Improvements – $2 M of which $1.5 would be a FEMA Grant and the City’s portion is $518,000

·       Bus 77 & 13th Street Storm Sewer Improvements– $5.9 M of which $4.4 would be a FEMA Grant and the City’s portion $1.4 M

·       Lozano Street– Stormwater Detention Pond– $1.4 M (all City)

·       West & Commerce Street Storm Sewer  Rehab Project– $600,000 (all  City)

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