July 10, 2010 in Nation/World

Rio Grande flooding city that bears its name

Christopher Sherman Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Max Sosa helps shovel mud from a neighbor’s driveway after their Laredo, Texas, neighborhood was flooded Friday by the Rio Grande.
(Full-size photo)

RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas – Upstream communities began to assess the damage Friday wrought by a Rio Grande that jumped its banks in the Texas city of Laredo, while down river people marveled warily at a river that bore little resemblance to the lazy waterway that usually divides border cities.

The Rio Grande continued rising in the city that bears its name to more than 3 feet above flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. The river was expected to rise at least another 2 feet to more than 55 feet.

Meanwhile, authorities in Mexico confirmed four people drowned Thursday when the Las Vacas creek overflowed near Ciudad Acuna, across the river from Del Rio, Texas. Coahuila state prosecutor Alberto Vasquez said the badly decomposed bodies hadn’t been identified.

Longtime Texas residents said they had not seen the Rio Grande reach these heights since Hurricane Beulah in 1967. The difference so far is that the area mercifully received little rain from the tropical depression that came ashore Thursday near the mouth of the Rio Grande.

City Manager Juan Zuniga hoped the lack of rain would stave off any threat of serious flooding.

“If we get any substantial rain, that will cause problems for us,” Zuniga said. His more pressing concern was how much water would be released from the Falcon Dam upstream.

The International Boundary and Water Commission more than doubled the amount of water passing through Falcon on Thursday, and Zuniga was waiting to hear if it would be increased again. The IBWC was analyzing data and had not made a decision to release more water.

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