Tropical depression drenches flooded border
LAREDO — A tropical depression dumped more rain on Texas and northern Mexico on Thursday, as the Rio Grande, normally little more than a trickle, bulged into a mighty river along much of its southern reach.
Authorities in Laredo evacuated several neighborhoods close to the river and a 16-story hotel on the banks as the river grew to 42 feet deep and water began to creep into some homes. More rain was expected to keep the water level high, city spokeswoman Xochitl Mora Garcia said.
“It’s difficult to describe,” said Jerry Archer, manager of Rio Grande Plaza Hotel. He estimated that the river was about 15 times its usual size. “I was born and raised on the Mississippi River, but people here are used to just a small stream.”
The muddy waters — driven by dam releases upstream and rain-swollen tributaries after last week’s Hurricane Alex — submerged light poles and towering palm trees, leaving only a few fronds waving above the water line.
National Guard troops arrived Thursday to help with evacuations, and people in low-lying areas gathered sandbags to protect their homes before being forced to leave.
Nancy Castillo, 35, picked up sandbags while her sister prepared to evacuate from her home near a dry creek bed overflowing with water