As you may well be aware, the Elm Creek, very near Eagle Pass, Texas has severely flooded. This has precipitated Maverick County authorities to shut down Highway 277 immediately before entering Eagle Pass. The shortest route now available to get from Del Rio to Eagle Pass is to take Highway 90 to Uvalde and then continue to FM 481 or HWY 83, before reaching HWY 57 which will take one to Eagle Pass. This route adds at least one hour onto the trip which Agents are expected to travel. A number of Agents have contacted me to ask how they would go about getting reassigned to a local station until the flooding recedes and the highways become safe again. I have already addressed this issue to LER Specialist Dhalia Garcia and she in turn spoke with Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Spielman. Their reply was for Agents to take the longer route and report to their assigned station as usual despite the dangerous circumstances.
We believe that this advice is unreasonable and unsafe. Sir, consider that the reassignment of Agents will be both brief and unsubstantial. The water is forecasted to recede in the next twenty-four hours. So the adjustment may not even affect every shift. In addition it is a rare occurrence, perhaps once every few years, that the highway is shut down. Also, a small minority of Agents commute between the stations. Perhaps one in 12 Agents would be affected (this is merely an approximation, but it is unlikely that the percentage is higher than this.) The alien and narcotics traffic will be slower in all areas due to the epic flooding so the Agents are actually less needed for patrol operations. Finally it is unsafe to expect Agents to contend with the dangerous conditions and long drive due to environmental factors. Our concern isn’t just for the bargaining unit, but for all people who are expected to travel between stations. There are a number of creeks which cross FM 481 which may now currently be running over the road. According to the National Weather Service (NWS) it takes only eighteen inches of water to wash a vehicle off the road. In addition the extra drive time will facilitate fatigue, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Below, I have provided information posted by the NWS showing the flooding that Agents will have to contend with.
Sir, we agreed earlier last month that taking the necessary precaution to ensure the safety of Agents is paramount. I hope that you see that a temporary reassignment until the flooding abates is one more way to express this concern. We would appreciate you advising all stations to keep employees working in a local capacity, rather than make the precarious drive on Hwy 277, until the roads are again safe. Thank you for your time.
AFGE-NBPC Local 2366
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
1040 AM CDT SUN JUL 4 2010
...THE FLOOD WARNING IS CANCELLED FOR THE FOLLOWING RIVERS IN TEXAS...
RIO GRANDE AT DEL RIO AFFECTING VAL VERDE COUNTY
...THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE FOLLOWING RIVERS IN TEXAS...
RIO GRANDE RIVER AT EAGLE PASS AFFECTING MAVERICK COUNTY
ALL PERSONS WITH INTERESTS ALONG THE RIVER SHOULD MONITOR
THE LATEST FORECASTS...AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE NECESSARY
PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY.
RIVER STAGE FORECASTS ARE BASED ON OBSERVED RAINFALL ALONG WITH
PREDICTED RAIN FOR THE NEXT 12 HOURS. IF ACTUAL RAINFALL VARIES
FROM FORECAST VALUES...FORECAST RIVER STAGES WILL VARY.
DO NOT DRIVE AUTOMOBILES THROUGH FLOODED AREAS. REMEMBER...18 INCHES
OF WATER OR LESS CAN CARRY AWAY MOST VEHICLES...INCLUDING TRUCKS.
IF YOU SEE FLOOD WATERS OR COME UPON A FLOODED ROADWAY...REMEMBER
TO TURN AROUND AND DO NOT DROWN.
FOR THE LATEST RIVER STAGES AND FORECASTS VISIT OUR WEB PAGE AT