Recent heavy rainfall has heightened concerns about the resilience of colonias in our area. These communities, often on low-lying farmland, need more basic amenities like water services and solid waste disposal. Poor drainage and unpaved roads exacerbate their vulnerability, especially during significant rain events.
A particular colonia off Rose Acres exemplifies these challenges, becoming a muddy quagmire after the recent downpours. While Nueces County is home to an estimated 200 colonias, only about three dozen are officially recognized. The state defines these areas as lacking essential services such as drinking water, sewage treatment, and paved roads, making them particularly susceptible to flooding.
Lionel Lopez, a South Texas Colonia native, emphasizes the difficulties faced by these communities. “They don’t have a voice. It’s hard to live out in the colonias,” he says. For over 50 years, his South Texas Colonia Initiative has been dedicated to supporting colonia residents and advocating for more action from elected officials. Lopez is particularly concerned about flooding, noting that the farmlands surrounding these areas are prone to overflow into the colonias during heavy rainfall.
Although the recent rainfall caused minimal flooding, the threat remains a constant worry. Nueces County Pct. 2 Commissioner John Marez expressed his concern: “Anytime it rains, I always cringe. I do. Because I know that there are areas in need of help.” Marez is actively working on solutions to mitigate these flooding issues.
However, the challenge is immense. Tackling the numerous issues faced by colonias could require tens of millions of dollars. Marez hopes that the ongoing Tri-County drainage study, in which the County participates, will help formulate a comprehensive plan to address the flooding. The aim is to present the study’s findings to the state to secure grant funding to transform these impoverished areas.
The situation in Nueces County’s colonias highlights a more significant issue of inequality and infrastructure. While local efforts are underway, the scale of the problem calls for state and federal assistance. The community’s resilience is tested with each downpour, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive solutions that address immediate concerns and pave the way for long-term improvement in the living conditions of colonia residents.