Laguna Heights families who lost homes to May tornado to get permanent housing

The roof is torn off a home surrounded by debris following a tornado touching down Saturday, May 13, 2023, on Van Buren Street in Laguna Heights. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)
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Cameron County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved $171,120 for construction materials to rebuild six houses that were demolished following the May EF1 tornado that touched down in Laguna Heights, killing one and injuring 11 others.

That tornado touched down on May 13 along State Hwy. 100 in the west end of Laguna Heights just before 4 a.m. with estimated winds of 85 to 105 mph.

That tornado flattened six mobile home structures, removed the second story of a local business and removed the majority of roof decking on at least 10 other residences and buildings, the National Weather Service at Brownsville said at the time.

The tornado also killed 41-year-old Laguna Heights resident Robert Flores.

In a news release, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño said commissioners approved the monies through an application for American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The move is a collaborative effort between the county, the Salvation Army, the Mennonites Volunteer Construction Teams and the Point Isabel School District to provide permanent housing for 20 families in Laguna Heights who lost their house or trailer in the tornado.

The Salvation Army will acquire 14 trailer homes for families while the Mennonites Volunteer Construction Teams will provide the labor force to rebuild the six houses with construction materials funded by Cameron County. The Point Isabel School District will provide $4,000 to each of the six families who lost their house in the tornado.

“Each family affected by the May tornado has been in my heart and on my mind for the last six months,” Treviño said. “I’m proud that Cameron County is stepping up financially to provide the funding for materials to rebuild the houses demolished by the tornado.”

He said the Salvation Army, the Mennonites and the Point Isabel School District should be credited for getting behind the team effort.

“Working together we can get much accomplished,” he said.

Precinct 3 Commissioner David A. Garza said he applauded his fellow commissioners and Treviño for getting behind the endeavor to provide the needed funding to restore the hope for these families and to put them back in permanent housing.

“Cameron County has provided many of the Laguna Heights families temporary housing since May, but we’re glad to know these families will be given good news of permanent homes just before the holiday season,” Garza said. “A big thank you is owed to the Salvation Army, Mennonites and Point Isabel School District for their contributions and seeing the need to help our community.”