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After Hurricane Harvey, residents of Rio Grande Valley want money, infrastructure for flood-prone area

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A large house sits in a square on a quiet street in the border city of McAllen, Texas. The surrounding houses are gone, but there are still a few brick-and-stucco ranch homes where people lived.

For about 25 years, before a massive surge in illegal border crossings, the McAllen area was home to some of the largest and most successful Mexican-American family farms in Texas. It was, said Rene Nuñez, who grew up here, the “Rio Grande Valley of Mexico.”

That era is behind them now, because when the Rio Grande reached full flood stage, Mr. Nuñez and his neighbors were displaced for days at a time, clustered in shelters by the hundreds of yards. They returned after floods destroyed some of their homes but were reminded that more should have been done to protect the towns from flooding.

“They promised us,” said Lorena Nuñez, who watched as her home was submerged in 2 feet of water. “They promised.”

And now, McAllen wants what most other small towns hope for — federal and state help. Officials have applied for FEMA’s Small Business Administration disaster loans, hoping to protect property from flooding from every future wave of migrants, many of whom are unaccompanied minors. Some officials also want the federal government to consider bringing the bridge back to its former capacity of 120 people a day.

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