Floods in Texas Felt throughout the Rio Grande Valley; Dante Galeazzi and Tommy Wilkins Reflect on Industry Impact
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TX - Breaking weather updates have been tugging on media channels, drawing viewers into the mercurial conditions. Recently, after a storm hit Texas, the Lone Star State's Rio Grande Valley has flooded.
Speaking on the food’s reflection on our industry’s well-being is Dante Galeazzi, President and CEO of Texas International Produce Association, and Tommy Wilkins, Director of Sales and Business Development for Grow Farms Texas.
"I've been down here five years, and, before this, I swore it never rained. Now, we've seen 12-20 inches, depending on what part of the valley you're in," Tommy shares, describing cars with water up to the windshields and employees being disrupted by the floods. "We don't have the drainage to handle that much volume, so we have seen massive road closures all over town. Certain warehouses were closed, while we lost phone service for 72 hours and were having to do everything by cell."
While Tommy’s Grow Farms team dealt with the conditions on their end, the Valley saw a wide range of damage from the storm, and the impacts were seen on all fronts of the industry.
“The rainfall was anywhere between 4 inches to 14 inches, depending on the location over the course of the two days. Many of the surface and frontage streets in South Texas were impacted, and, unfortunately, several cities like Weslaco suffered flooding that entered major residential areas,” Dante tells AndNowUKnow, expanding that the damage reached all over the valley and what the storm means for the produce industry. “Although most of the watermelons had been harvested in South Texas already, the impact to the fresh produce industry was felt by workers being unable to access the facilities due to road closures and unsafe conditions. Trucks were stranded on the freeways or at gas stations in Edinburg because they couldn’t exit off the freeway due to flooded roads. There were a lot of roads reported with standing water and thus inaccessible, including in Pharr near the international bridge.”
Tommy adds that, while the troubles connected with the storm are being fixed, companies and trucks have had trouble communicating. Luckily, Pharr Bridge never felt the onslaught, he clarifies, nor the areas growing fresh produce.
"From a production standpoint, it's a blessing to corn, sugarcane, and cotton—not much was hurt. And the water didn't come down on where they are loading cantaloupe like it did here,” Tommy explains, adding the sentiment that everything is bigger in Texas. "We've had a major drought down here. They say we ask for some heat we get 110 degrees; we ask for cold we get snow, and when we ask for rain we get the Gulf."
As the whole state pushes forward after the storms, the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, issued a declaration of emergency for the event, according to a press release, and he encouraged the use of available resources from the state government, as well as political subdivisions, that would aid response efforts.
"As severe weather and flooding continue to impact parts of Texas, our first priority is to ensure the safety of our fellow Texans in harm’s way,” Governor Abbott said. “The State of Texas has activated all necessary resources to help respond to the ongoing severe weather, and we will continue to provide any assistance to local communities. I thank our first responders who are working to keep Texans safe, and I encourage all those in the affected regions to continue to heed all warnings from local officials.”
Mother Nature always has a few tricks up her sleeve, however, and is now providing the region with some more pleasant weather that will help to dry the Valley. The outlooks are also brightening alongside the coming sunshine.
“Thankfully, much of the water had receded by 1 p.m. on Thursday, June 21st in many parts of the valley. The weather was clear and warm on Friday, which helps further dry standing water and bring a small sense of normalcy to business operations in the Rio Grande Valley,” Dante explains. “Many communities will still be dealing with the challenges of standing water though through the valley, and local emergency services will likely remain busy for the foreseeable future, cleaning up and assisting families in need.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rio Grande Valley’s communities at this time as they recover from these recent storms.
For more news on how the weather is shaping our industry and more, stick with us at AndNowUKnow for updates.