Due to the historic levels of water presently in Lake Amistad, the dam is nearly entirely open. The surrounding areas and the communities down stream will continue to experience flooding for, what may be, several more days.
After the dam was opened, one of the immediate consequences was accelerated flooding downriver of Lake Amistad. The Rio Grande continued to swell up and the creeks and arroyos which normally dump into the Rio became new fingers of the swollen river. The flooding ultimately became so bad that Elm Creek spilled over Highway 277 and the highway was subsequently inundated with water. Maverick County authorities shut down Highway 277, just outside of Eagle Pass, Texas, on Monday night to Tuesday afternoon, July 5-6. Agents who normally commute between Eagle Pass and Del Rio, Texas were forced to travel up Highway 57, to FM 481, to Uvalde, Texas, to Highway 90, through Brackettville, Texas and finally on to Del Rio. This route added in excess of two hours to Agents’ travel times.
The Union felt that the impact of the alternate route was excessive, dangerous, and unnecessary. To address our concerns, an e-mail was sent to Sector requesting that Agents who would be impacted by the closure of Highway 277 be allowed to work in nearby, non-obstructed, stations. The Acting Chief Patrol Agent, Dean Sinclair, responded that he would allow agents to attend closer stations so long as it did not impact operations and was approved by the necessary Patrol Agents in Charge. This allowance would only be for the time that Highway 277 was blocked.
The Union would like to commend the Service for allowing this temporary measure. We feel that the Service acted in a responsible manner by considering the impact of the environment on the Agents. The Union strongly believes that this type of dialogue is essential for remedying legitimate Agent concerns. We applaud Chief Sinclair for his prudence in this matter.
Although the raining has stopped for now, the river and surrounding areas still remain treacherous. Despite the recession of the river, we encourage agents to use caution when operating near the river or other flooded areas. Washouts, slick banks and areas where water may be continuing to cover the road are the by-product of Rio Grande flooding. In the past years, accidents have occurred due to each of these calamities. Agents have rolled their trucks after dropping tires into washouts, slid their vehicles into rivers or canals, and had vehicles swept away while trying to ford water covered roads.