One young girl made sure to stay close to her house on the first day of summer vacation, as the flood waters on Beam Station Road covered her front yard. Photo by CHRISTOPHER MAHER

Area known to flood; drainage an issue

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr.and Christopher Maher

Alice Echo-News Journal

On McMasters Street, residents faced the worst of the flooding as best they could under the circumstances.

Portions of the road were closed early by county officials.

Teresa Gonzales was expecting her sister from Houston when the rain came. Her granddaughter, Denise, was graduating Friday night. Instead of the last-minute preparations for graduation, Gonzales spent Friday afternoon picking up trash from her yard that had accumulated over the years under her house and were washed out by the rain waters.

"Right now, that it was very dry, the water will go down fast, but we're expecting more rain," Gonzales said.

She was concerned about more rain this weekend, but also about what will come afterward - mosquitoes.

"Yes, I worry, of course. We have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so everything is pretty bad for them," Gonzales said.

She continued to pick up floating trash, watching for fire ants drifting in the water.

"Watch out for those ants," she said.

Her son, Baldemar, Denise's father, walked from next door to see how his parents were handling the flood.

"It gets pretty bad. I mean completely flooded. You can't walk anywhere," Baldemar said. "I can say we're used to it, because we've lived here so long, but the drainage here is pretty bad. We haven't had a big rain like this in a while."

But for Baldemar and his parents, there has never been a flood large enough to convince them to move away from the Rancho Alegre area, where their family has lived for generations.

"I guess we're here to the end," Baldemar said. "My parents live here. I have a house across the street with my family, to keep an eye on them. All our family has lived here all their lives. Down the street, it's all family, it's home. When it rains, it rains. There's nothing you can do about it."

Further up the street, Tom Muller was digging small drainage channels to direct water away from his home on McMasters Street during a break in the rain Friday morning.

"There's not really much drainage out here," Muller said. "This has happened to us before, but normally it takes a hurricane or something like that to bring this much water."

Further down McMasters Street, Romeo Iglesias was also trying to dig channels to direct the six inches of water covering his yard away from his home.

"I've seen even worse than this before," Iglesias said. "Let it go down and then let it rain again. We need it."

In response to the conditions, county commissioners blocked off or shut down several roads in the county as a precaution.

Road and bridge crews from all four precincts were on stand-by Friday, dealing with flood conditions as they developed.

Commissioner Zenaida Sanchez's crew closed several roads in the Rancho Alegre area because of increasing flood waters stemming from Lattas Creek and other creeks in the area.

Last year, in preparation for hurricane season, Sanchez purchased 15 road barricades, which were put to use Friday to secure roads closed by flowing water.

"What's so unfortunate is that there are so many creeks going through here, it's what you can expect with five-and-a-half inches of rain in two-and-a-half hours," Sanchez said. "We're keeping our guys on stand-by, and we're staying on top of this."

Commissioner Ventura Garcia assisted the City of Alice early Friday morning with his crew out near Texas Boulevard assisting with road conditions there. He said after an inspection of his county roads, none were closed because of flooding.

Commissioner Oswald Alaniz also kept his men on stand-by, and set up several barricades in low-lying areas. He also had two trucks fueled up at his Alice yard, in the event that people needed to be evacuated from high water areas.

Commissioner Javier Garcia said he faced many creek areas in his precinct that needed barriers, but his office didn't have enough to close all they needed.

The workers on his crew called on the public to be more cautious when driving the roadways, especially those near creek areas.

"Everyone's on 24-hour call and as situations occur, our crew will show up," Garcia said.

Garcia also recommended to parents that their children not play in water-logged areas for their own safety, because of the danger of rattlesnakes moving to higher ground out of the water.

"I don't think the parents know how dangerous that can be," he said. "The kids need to stay out of the water-logged areas for their own safety."