Residents load up on sandbags as flooding remains a threat

Residents load up on sandbags as flooding remains a threat

EL PASO, Texas - While there isn't widespread flooding from the rains hitting the Borderland this week, homeowners can still get quite the headache from dealing with water coming into their homes.

There's been a lot of demand for sandbags around the region, with El Paso Water handing about 15,000 of them on Tuesday alone. ABC-7 crews saw a few people getting more bags as the East Side distribution point just off of McRae Boulevard and Daugherty Drive. That site by itself gave out nearly 2,000 Tuesday through midday Wednesday.

Residents are limited to 15 sandbags at a time. The water utility does has some tips on how to make that work for most problems with water coming into your house, even creating a YouTube video demonstrating some techniques.

While El Paso Water staff said they are pleased people are using the sandbags, they want to remind people they can get ready before any storm shows up.

"We just encourage people to take advantage of those free sandbags that we do give," said Christina Montoya, spokeswoman for El Paso Water. "It was great to see that people did go out yesterday, but we want people to do that in a proactive way, not waiting until the rain happens. If you know that your home does flood, get it ahead of time. Store it in your garage. You know, there's things you can do to prepare to help protect your home."

Getting ready for the storms the Borderland has seen lately takes a lot of work, as does making sure people know what's coming and where.

The ABC-7 Stormtrack Weather Team activated our First Alert system to the region days before the storms arrived. Getting all the area agencies and resources ready for it starts even before that.

"It's very important that we partner with emergency response folks, all the public safety kind of guys, the local governments. And we start that well in advance to any system like this coming in," said Tom Bird, a National Weather Service meteorologist in the Santa Teresa Office.

Bird and other NWS staff started discussing the possible impacts of this storm a week ago, going through a variety of steps like emails, video posts and even special group chat services to make sure everyone knows what's coming.

"We have an integrated warning team where we all come together and we train and we do a lot of work together so we get a common message," Bird said, "consistent message out to the public so they'll know what to do, what measures to take to keep themselves and their property safe."

Weather can impact your safety, your property, and your livelihood, and making sure the threats are clear is a constant battle.

"We keep in constant communication before the system comes in," Bird said. "The first sight that we start seeing something that could be very impacting across the region, we will start communicating with our partners."

There are several locations around town where you can pick up sandbags -- all open through 8 p.m. Wednesday only because of the rain. In Northeast El Paso, you can stop by the Stormwater Operations Center at 4801 Fred Wilson Avenue. On the West Side, the Water Utility Booster station is at 7830 Paseo Del Norte. In East El Paso, the Cielo Vista booster station is at 9428 Daugherty Drive. In the Lower Valley, stop by Blackie Chesher Park,  9292 Escobar Drive. And in Central, you can get your sandbags at the wastewater treatment plant at 913 S. Boone Street.

Out in El Paso County, you can stop by any of the volunteer fire department stations: West Valley in the Vinton area, San Elizario, Socorro, Clint, Fabens and Montana vista. You can also find them at the road and bridge warehouses at 191 Canutillo Avenue and 14698 Van Lane.

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