Three months after storms, McAllen facing a week of rain

McALLEN — The city distributed 1,100 sandbags to residents on Monday after rain started pouring on the city Sunday, nearly three months after 2,700 homes were damaged during June storms.

Rain is expected throughout the week, and sandbags will be available again Tuesday beginning at 7:30 a.m. at the city’s recycling center at 4201 North Bentsen Road. Residents need to show identification and a utility bill.

“We’re thankful for the rain, we’re also thankful when it doesn’t come so fast,” said Assistant City Manager Jeffrey Johnston.

Residents are still dealing with the aftermath of the June storms. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are still in town to help.

City officials are fortunate that McAllen voters approved a $22 million bond in a May election for drainage improvement projects in the city. There will end up being 22 drainage projects stemming from that bond election, according to the city budget.

The city’s 22 drainage projects from the May bond election will likely cost $11.6 million over the next year and $9.9 million the following year, pending commission approval.

The costliest projects from the $22 million bond, according to the budget, are: $5.6 million for the Bicentennial Blueline for improvements of undersized existing storm sewer system from Tamarack Avenue to Harvey Avenue; $5.2 million for the Northwest Regional Stormwater Detention Facility to “propose a regional facility to improve storage capacity of adjacent drainage channel.”

Two of the cheaper projects from that bond, according to the budget, are: $19,360 for Iris Avenue at Cynthia Avenue for improvements of limited and undersized existing storm sewer system; $28,000 for East Tamarack Avenue for “improvements of limited and undersized existing storm sewer system.”

The drainage utility fee collection, meanwhile, varies depending on the size of a property. McAllen’s engineering department estimated the average residence in McAllen is 2,700 square feet, which would amount to a $1.50 monthly fee on residents’ utility bill. The average McAllen property’s drainage utility fee would be $18 per year.

City officials determined the fee for each property by taking the total square footage of impervious cover at a property, divide it by 2,700 — the average square footage of a McAllen single-family residence — and multiply that number by $1.50.

Impervious cover is everything on a property that is essentially an artificial structure. Examples of impervious cover include a garage, pool house, cabana or porch. The Hidalgo County Appraisal District uses codes for every piece of impervious cover on a property. These codes appear on property tax bills. The city uses these codes to determine square footage of impervious cover on the property.

The city hosted public hearings for the drainage fee, but the public was not interested. Less than 50 people attended the multiple hearings in the winter.