Pictured: The Meier family, which owns and operates Fun Zone in downtown Alice, had to sweep rain waters from the business Friday afternoon. CHRISTOPHER MAHER

Businesses, homes, vehicles damaged

by Friday's rains

Christopher Maher and Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Local officials and residents are working to recover from the effects of pouring rain that occurred Friday morning, while bracing for more rain that is expected over the next few days.

National Weather Service officials estimated more than six inches of rain fell on the city of Alice Friday morning, flooding streets, homes and businesses.

Emergency crews with the Alice Fire Department, the Alice Police Department and the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department responded to numerous calls of motorists trapped in flooded vehicles, and evacuated several families from homes on the north side of the city.

Interim City Manager Ruben Maldonado said Friday city officials had been scheduled to participate in a hurricane preparedness exercise Friday morning, but that exercise was cancelled when officials were called on to the existing emergency.

Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez activated the Emergency Operations Center shortly after 10 a.m. Friday, as water continued to rise around the city.

"Things ran very smoothly," Maldonado said. "Everybody worked together, all the agencies. To my knowledge there was no loss of life."

A temporary evacuation center was set up at the city's ReCenter at the intersection of Cameron and Seventh streets, but that site was moved to William Adams Middle School when flood waters began to prevent access to the building.

American Red Cross officials arrived on the scene shortly after 11 a.m., Maldonado said, and began providing food, blankets and water to several families who were evacuated from homes on the city's north side.

Several businesses were also affected by the weather, with flooding inside several buildings throughout the city.

John Meier, the owner of the Fun Zone located downtown, had three inches of water inside his business.

"The city told us this kind of flooding only happens once every 100 years," Meier said. "We've been here six years and this is the fourth time this has happened."

Lalo Falcon was driving his vehicle downtown when it was overcome by flood waters.

"It was really dark, I couldn't tell that the street was the way it was. As soon as I drove on the road, I was in it," he said. "I was in there just until the water came up high, and then I got out and walked away. I let it sit there. It's been there since this morning. I had to wait for the water to go down, and then my friend came here to help me."

Falcon's car, a Buick Riviera, sat in the water and is likely a loss.

"It's an old car. I owe about a thousand dollars on it," he said. "I should at least get that much for it. I'm just going to empty it out and suck up the water. This car, all it's got is liability. I have faith God is going to take care of me. I've prayed about it. I'm confident that I'm going to get it taken care of."

With more rain expected over the next several days, Alice Fire Chief Dean Van Nest urged local residents to take precautions to avoid high water.

"When it starts flooding, stay off the road," Van Nest said. "Stay indoors, and if you need assistance call us and we will come get you."