AP NEWS

City fills 12,000 sandbags for residents

May 18, 2019

Long before a tropical storm or hurricane has formed in the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico, the City of Brownsville wants residents to prepare for the storm. So with the help of machines and lots of employees, the city filled 12,000 sandbags this past week for its annual sandbag distribution.

The public works crews worked in shifts over several days to either operate the two sandbag filling machines and tying off each bag or filling bags the old fashioned bag - with a shovel.

“Its a little bit quicker process, but the machine being what it is, it sometimes breaks down, so we have them as a backup,” said Santiago Navarro, the assistant director for the public works department.

Crews said at least 3,000 of the bags were filled by hand.

In years past, the city offered the sandbags at a number of locations and residents had to bring their own shovels and fill the bags themselves. Navarro says this year city leaders decided it would be easier for residents if crews filled all the bags and distributed all of them from the North Brownsville Industrial Park on Parades Line Road, just south of FM 550.

“We want people to feel safe, the line isn’t as long as other times and it’s an easy process,” Navarro said. “We have the ability to stack cars for a good distance and its easy to access and go out.”

Luz Flores is a longtime Brownsville resident who lives off of 15th Street and was used to going to one of the former distribution locations to get his sandbags.

“Once they told me it was on Paredes I drove out here right away,” he said in Spanish.

Sarai Hernandez picks up sandbags each year to protect her home.

“The last time I had to do it myself and came with a shovel.”

She was happy the bags were all pre-filled.

City crews will be giving away the sandbags today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents need a drivers license, Texas ID or a utility bill to prove they live in Brownsville.

Once their residency is confirmed, city crews will load the bags in the vehicles in a matter of seconds. The whole process takes just minutes.

“We hope that our citizens are proactive and come in that way when a hurricane season comes in you have time to do other things that are also needed to prepare for that,” Navarro said.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season forecast calls for five hurricanes and two major hurricanes, meaning storms that are classified as a category three or greater with winds in excess of 111 mph.

dmaldonado@brownsvilleherald.com

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