By Davis Rankin, Jr.
The message from McAllen City Hall to rain-damaged residents is to fix up your homes and buildings. Don’t worry about getting a city permit; Oh, they’d like you to get one, but you don’t have to do it. Now’s the time to fix up and clean up. And if you do get a permit, the city is waiving the fee.
McAllen and the Valley saw heavy rains over a two-day period in mid-to-late June, the heaviest two-day rains since Hurricane Beulah in 1967, according to City Attorney and emergency manager Kevin Pagan.
At this week’s regular meeting, commissioners made it clear that the city was not requiring residents to get a permit or pay a fee; that has been the city’s position since the flooding. At Monday’s meeting, they passed an ordinance formalizing the suspension and putting an end date of August 24, 2018 on the suspension.
City Manager Roy Rodriguez did say that if residents do get a permit, that allows the city to send inspectors to check the work out of safety concerns.
“Those folks (people with rain damage) need quick action because FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has instructed everyone to get rid of any material that’s in the home that’s waterlogged.”
They estimate that about 2,700 homes in McAllen sustained damage during the rain and subsequent flooding and fewer than 100 commercial buildings, Rodriguez continued. There are an estimated 22,000 “structures” in Hidalgo County, he said.
One of Assistant City Manager Jeff Johnston’s jobs is to serve as assistant emergency manager coordinator. He reported to commissioners Monday that he had just met with FEMA personnel and that FEMA plans to open three temporary offices in Hidalgo County in the next week or two. While residents who think they need FEMA assistance may call the agency to put in a request, or go to the FEMA website, they are urging people to go in-person to the centers. Johnston said going in person will help people asking for FEMA help to better navigate the process.
The FEMA phone is 800-621-FEMA (3362), and the website is either fema.gov or disasterassistance.gov.
When the FEMA office locations are announced, The Valley Times will tell you about them.