Last year, I wrote a post about Hurricane Harvey and all my fancy, hypothetical evacuation plans. At the time, I thought I had considered every possible issue associated with those high winds, storms and all the buckets of rain. I guess a flood never crossed my mind!
Clearly, I hadn’t lived in the RGV long enough to experience Lake Los Fresnos.
In 2017, the City of Los Fresnos gave me six sandbags in preparation for Harvey, and I felt so secure. Of course, that particular storm passed us by. Unfortunately, it hit many of my friends and family up in the Corpus Christi/Rockport/Port Aranasa area. Flash forward to a few weeks ago. I had paid attention to the news and weather reports. The weathermen reported that a “tiny system” was heading towards the Gulf from the Yucatan; it was small. The news assured us it would remain small, and that it would fail to become more organized. We all went on with our daily lives. I don’t think anyone, including me, was prepared for over fifteen inches of rain in less than a week!
This “tiny system”, this tropical disturbance, wreaked more havoc on the Rio Grande Valley than Harvey did when it skirted past us. I talked to a lot of people who claim it was even worse than Hurricane Dolly’s impact. I had no idea that my new home, my new town that I love so, would end up becoming a literal Lake Los Fresnos. Those six sand bags I received last year, the ones that made me feel so secure, wouldn’t have stopped the river of water flowing down my street. If we had had just a couple more inches of water, my living room would have absolutely become one with that outdoor lake.
I have lived on the Gulf Coast the majority of my life, and I have never had to drive through so much water to simply get home.
I’m writing this post while looking outside at yet even more rain. All I can see is just another catalyst to hatch those mosquitoes from the last catastrophic rainfall. As prepared as I thought I was for this sort of scenario, I now know I was not. This entire experience was humbling, and frightening. The lovely Los Fresnos Police Department had the task of guiding flood traffic. The ditches on South Arroyo flooded the roads, and the Resaca on North Arroyo spilled it’s guts onto the street, making driving hazardous for residents.
Even after everything is said and done, I still possess zero wisdom and zero solutions to local flooding. But I offer you simple empathy, and empathy I would never have known otherwise.
Hopefully this humbling experience will encourage our local city governments, and our local residents, to treat any and all tropical disturbances, storms, and hurricanes with more urgency. Perhaps we can be pro-active to prevent a future Lake Los Fresnos, or Lake Weslaco, or Lake McAllen. Maybe as residents, we can do our part to pick up any and all garbage that may block our culverts and drainage systems? Perhaps cities can do more to pick up larger debris in the city ditches and resacas?
My neighbors pro-actively poured a new, larger, more elevated driveway (Smart cookies! Their vehicles were definitely not safe). As soon as my city could, they sent mosquito spray trucks through the neighborhoods. Since I’m super pregnant, I’ve been incredibly grateful for the city’s mosquito spray trucks. No one wants Zika or West Nile. I still just wonder if we are all doing enough. What happens in the next flood?
(Random aside: After Lake Los Fresnos dried up, we found various displaced creatures! We found dead crabs, dead fish, dead snakes, and dead turtles. Oh my, what stink! I recently trashed my double stroller because I forgot it outside, and it reeked of dead fish. I am ridiculously grateful that the 10-foot San Benito alligator did NOT come visit me! Y’all would be reading a much different post right now if that had been the case! This entire experience still boggles my mind.)
What did your RGV neighborhood and town looked like after the rain? How many inches did your family get? Comment below!