Some Rio Grande Valley high school athletic programs still feeling flood effects
DONNA — On the morning of June 20, Donna High athletic coordinator Ramiro Leal and other district staffers were told to report to work two to three hours later than usual. An abnormal amount of rain had fallen in parts of Brooks and Cameron counties earlier that week, but now the series of weather systems was setting its sights on Hidalgo County.
“When I got to the school, there was water everywhere,” Leal said. “There wasn’t a lot of standing water, not like a foot or anything like that. It was like someone turned on the water faucet and forgot to turn it off. We had water all over the athletic area, the cafeteria, toward the main office. It was all over the place.”
Leal walked through the water-filled hallway that led to his office, adjacent to the school’s gymnasium. His office had 2 inches of water inside, forcing Leal to transport some furniture and boxes to higher ground.
Seven weeks later, evidence of water remains. The bottom of Leal’s bookcase has a clear watermark. Several floor tiles in the hallway leading to the gym were loosened by the floodwater and have since been removed, but not replaced.
Water seeped underneath the gym’s wooden floors, but the damage was not as extensive as once thought.
“The extent of the damage covers about one-fifth of the gym, around the out-of-bounds part of it,” Leal said. “The affected area is covered up once we pull our bleachers out. The in-bounds area as a playable surface is still OK. We’re going to keep on playing there and wait and see how the district wants to handle repairs.”
The court held firm for Donna High volleyball, which took three of four games from Edinburg Vela in Tuesday’s season opening victory.
Additionally, Weslaco was hammered as portions of town endured anywhere from 10 to 15 1/2 inches of rain. At a July 12 board meeting, the Weslaco ISD board of trustees estimated nearly $14 million worth of rain damage to district property.
Weslaco High athletic coordinator Michael Salinas said his school’s athletic facilities were spared, by and large. Weslaco East, however, was not.
“We had some major damage to our school,” Weslaco East athletic coordinator Michael Burget said. “Some of our sports have been affected, and we’re trying to repair everything as fast as we can.”
The Weslaco East gymnasium is the athletics facility affected most. The gym held 18 inches of rain and drainage water during the flood, and the floor is still under repair. The Weslaco East volleyball team has been practicing and playing away from its usual floor as the season opened this week.
“We’ve had to make some adjustments to get our (volleyball) teams to practice at our small gym or a junior high,” Burget said. “Our AD (Oscar Riojas) has brought a good company down here right away to work on it after the flood. The folks from our administration down to our main office have done a great job of trying to find the best facilities and best situations for our girls to be their best. It’s a situation where none of us can control the weather, so we’ve had to find a way to get these practices in.”
Burget and Riojas said they believe the gym will be ready within a week.