RAYMONDVILLE — Across the Rio Grande Valley, many residents cringe when they remember the sudden June storm gushing into homes across much of the area nearly three years ago.
The year before, a June 2018 storm — also categorized as a 500-year event — flooded out homes and businesses across much of the region.
Now, officials in Raymondville are planning the city’s biggest drainage project aimed at curbing widespread flooding in this low-lying area.
Earlier this week, city commissioners agreed to publish a public notice announcing their plans to borrow $337,000 through the sale of certificates of obligation to help fund part of an overall $10 million drainage project.
On Wednesday, Public Works Director Joel Soto called it the biggest drainage project the city has undertaken.
“If we get a flood like 2019, when the whole Valley flooded, we want to be prepared for that,” Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said Wednesday. “We want to be prepared for a hurricane as well.”
As part of the projects, crews will work to widen drainage canals, tying them into retention ponds north of town and along Washington Street near low-lying North Star Apartments in the city’s southern edge, Gonzales said.
The project aims to draw floodwaters into the Raymondville Drain, a regional floodway running from Edinburg to the Laguna Madre.
“It’s essentially a project to benefit the whole city,” City Manager Eleazar Garcia said. “We’re widening ditches all around Raymondville, we’re dropping pipe, looking at drop-off points to the Raymondville Drain.”
Across the Valley, the June 2019 storm dumped more than a foot of rain within hours, spawning floodwaters that turned the city’s downtown streets into shallow rivers.
“Our big concern has always been the downtown,” Gonzales said. “Now it seems the water’s receding pretty fast. We want to make it better.”
At City Hall, Garcia said a $10 million Texas General Land Office grant will help fund most of the project.
As part of the grant program, the city plans to fund $100,000, he said.
Meanwhile, the Texas Water Development Board is offering the city a $548,551 zero-percent interest loan to help finance a related project tied to its proposed sale of $337,000 worth of certificates of obligation, Garcia said.
Over the bonds’ 30-year term, officials plan to make annual $11,233 debt service payments to pay off the loan, he said.
Officials have not set the project’s timetable, Soto said.