Texas Observer features colonia organizing effort to prevent flooding

A new in-depth story on the Texas Observer website details the organizing efforts of colonia residents in the Rio Grande Valley to gain something that most communities take for granted: Basic drainage infrastructure so that their neighborhoods don’t flood every time it rains.

The story, “Holding Back the Flood,” follows residents, organizers and advocates, including our Rio Grande Valley director Josué Ramírez, as they work to bring the drainage systems in many colonias into the modern era. As Josué says in the story:  “In terms of building and developing communities in the Rio Grande valley, you really have to start from scratch with the basic necessities, with issues like drainage, which in the city and more urban areas are not necessarily issues at all, because it’s actually there.”

As the Observer notes, the community participants of Land Use Colonia Housing Action (LUCHA), a partnership with our great friends at La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), are leading the charge to reduce colonia flooding. LUCHA leaders have worked with a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including elected officials and builders and engineers like our partners at [bc]Workshop, to influence public policy and find solutions for infrastructural issues.

The campaign has been successful because of the tireless work of the LUCHA leaders and Esther G. Herrera Martínez, the project coordinator and leader of the LUCHA effort. New drainage ditches have been installed in the Spanish Palms colonia and, thanks to resident organizing, the state is conducting a comprehensive colonia drainage survey and has begun work on designs plans for drainage projects in 20 more areas.

The entire article is well worth a read, and if you’d like to learn more about the incredible work that LUPE and another partner in the Valley, A Resource In Serving Equality (ARISE), have been engaged in for many years, check out our series of short videos on organizing tactics and history along the border.

4 comments on “Texas Observer features colonia organizing effort to prevent flooding

  1. What was not emphasized in the excellent story in the Texas Observer is the role of the community organizers at La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and at A Resource and Serving Equality (ARISE). These are the organizers of the house meetings in the colonias and are the essential catalyst that brings people together to learn through LUCHA and through other social justice campaigns. LUPE and ARISE have been working for justice for colonia residents and for farmworkers for many years. They deserve the support and recognition of all Texans.

    An end to chronic flooding in all the colonias, basic public safety and streetlights, the replacement of substandard housing with decent homes and the elimination of the shocking environmental hazards on the border all must be secured through the hard work of community organizing and supported by enlightened public officials.

    The remarkable women featured in this story, Nelly Curiel and Norma Aldape (both LUPE leaders) and Eva Carranza (a leader in ARISE) have succeeded through the power of citizens acting together through our democratic system of government. They discovered this power only when they joined with others in the colonias to organize and act together for change. LUPE and ARISE and their leaders are in this struggle for the long haul. As Curiel says in the story, “Our work is only just beginning,”

  2. Pingback: Years of organizing results in vital stormwater drainage project for Rio Grande Valley colonias | Texas Housers

  3. Pingback: Years of organizing lead to vital stormwater drainage project for Rio Grande Valley colonias | Texas Housers

  4. Pingback: Where you live matters: Assessing unequal access to healthy environments | Texas Housers

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