Drainage ditch cleanup stalled, man says TxDOT dropped the ball

A drainage ditch is supposed to help alleviate flood waters. But what happens when a ditch isn't properly maintained? "I think we need some help... And fast," Bob Asbridge said. Bob is Calling 4 Action because he doesn't want to see the kind of problems that resulted in a west Harlingen area back when Hurricane Dolly hit. "This ditch flooded during Dolly... And flooded these homes... And all I'm trying to do is keep these people from getting flooded out," he explained. The drainage ditch is located just north of Expressway 83 and west of Lewis Lane in Harlingen. It helps with water runoff from the major roadway. The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining it. "I've lived here 8 years," Bob said. "It has not been maintained in those 8 years." Turns out the state agency is aware of the problem and has been since Hurricane Dolly in 2008.Pete Alvarez, director of maintenance, says TxDOT has been working for the last year to get an environmental clearance from resource agencies like Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers for the project. It includes 4 other drainage ditches that need a complete overhaul. But the project remains stalled, according to Alvarez. He adds the earliest that work could be completed is by the end of October/November, which is also the end of hurricane season. That reality doesn't sit well with Humberto Barrera, Cameron County's emergency management coordinator. His prediction? "We'll be back shooting some video here... Or you'll be back shooting some video here of something that's really flooded out," he said. Barrera says a tremendous effort is taken each year to prevent ditches from getting to this point to begin with. "Part of the preparedness is not only the household and not only the individual... And not only our own families... At the county we make sure the drainage ditches are kept clean and the cities make sure that the ditches are kept clean... And I believe the state should also do the same thing," Barrera said. Bob believes TxDOT dropped the ball."I really don't give a damn about their environmental impact study... These people are getting flooded out of their homes... And end up with mold and everything in their homes... They need help," he said. It's help that may not come fast enough.

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