Brigadier General says they had ‘sense of urgency’ to close gaps in levees
The Army Corps of Engineers is rushing to repair levees that were breached to build former President Donald Trump’s border wall.
As hurricane season approaches, construction workers are racing against time amid fears that storms could devastate the area around Mission, Texas.
Southern Texas is an area that often suffers from hurricanes and flooding, making the levee system vital for the survival of communities in the region.
The Army Corps of Engineers have said they are likely going to be able to make sure that the region is protected if it’s struck by a hurricane, NBC News reported.
Construction workers are putting in 12- to 14-hour shifts six days a week to get it done before the first hurricane hits.
Tall levees previously protecting the area around Mission were cut out to make way for Mr Trump’s border wall. But now levees are being put back in its place, with construction planned to finish by the end of the month.
Brigadier General Christopher Beck, the commander of the Southwestern Division of the US Army Corps of Engineers, told NBC News: “The purpose of the levee is obviously to remediate or mitigate against flood threat[s]. The more complete the levee system is, the more repaired those excavations are, the better flood protection it provides against a threat to the people and infrastructure behind the levee. So we certainly had a sense of urgency.”
The border wall was a trademark of the Trump administration, but President Joe Biden signed an executive order to stop spending taxpayer dollars on the construction of the wall on his first day in office on 20 January.
“Like every nation, the United States has a right and a duty to secure its borders and protect its people against threats,” Mr Biden’s proclamation said. “But building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution. It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.”
When construction was halted, giant gaps were left with no flood protection.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz wrote a letter to Mr Biden in April, saying: “Your administration should not allow its opposition to a border wall to prevent building a levee wall that is critical to the people of the Rio Grande Valley.”
“You need to help us, because if you don’t, if you don’t finish this project, if you don’t complete this levee, we’re going to be in the water here,” former Border Patrol agent Armando Mercado told Fox News at the time. “And we’re talking about thousands of homes, thousands of people. It is going to be devastating to this community.”
The other Texas Senator, John Cornyn, announced that same month that his office had sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, saying: “Leaving these levees in their current state could put more than 200,000 Texans in the path of catastrophic flooding as hurricane season rapidly approaches. It is critical that the Department permit the Army Corps of Engineers and other contractors to continue their work to rebuild and repair these levees.”
“I have heard from dozens of local leaders who are concerned with the threat this unfinished work represents to their communities,” he added.