McALLEN, Texas – McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez filled in for Mayor Jim Darling at this month’s McAllen Economic Development Corporation board meeting.
In the City’s monthly report, Rodriguez discussed the impact of the winter storm, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, and immigration.
Introduced by McAllen EDC President Keith Patridge, Rodriguez started off with a joke about the city elections.
Here are the City Manager’s remarks:
“I will speak in general terms. When Keith says I am filling in for the mayor, I am the only one not running for office this year. Let’s make that clear.
“We have got some really big issues that we are dealing with. It seems like when something calms down, something else pops up. In light of what we are dealing with today and we have been all week, immigration is still a big issue for us.
“We continue to talk to CBP and Border Patrol about what the policy is moving forward. It seems that we are hearing one thing out of Washington and seeing a different thing here. But, we are working very closely with them. We have a fantastic relationship with both entities, including the port director here in McAllen and the sector chief for Border Patrol.
“Immigrants keep coming. We thought we were going to be okay. It looked like the numbers were steady at about 40 or 50 going into the respite center. They creeped up to about 100 a day. Obviously, the concern today isn’t so much the immigration. I think we have shown we can handle that. It’s having to deal with COVID and trying to put people into a building. It has made it more complicated. I think that is the worry from all levels, state, local and federal.
“What once was able to handle maybe 1,200 people at the respite center, we might be able to handle 400. Yesterday, in fact, we reached that number and it wasn’t because we saw a larger number of folks coming across. It was because we didn’t have any buses going north. The buses were unable to travel due to weather conditions so it cascaded and it impacted us in other areas. So, we are dealing with that. We were able to power up the respite center. It actually lost power as most of you know. Most of downtown lost power. We were able to connect to generators for them and they are up and running. So, that is that.
“We continue to do a lot of COVID testing. The City of McAllen itself is doing very well. As you probably also know, we created our own program here in the city to ensure that we are able to provide testing for our employees and families. Back in the summer of 2020 we had about 250 employees out. So, that was more than ten percent of our workforce. We are hovering between ten and 20 people now. So it is a huge, huge difference that we are able to make. So, we are doing okay on that front.
“As you know, everybody is trying to have vaccine clinics. A lot of pressure on every community to do that. There are only so many vaccines coming out of Austin and so we have got to spread that around. The vaccines that we are using are actually coming to the county and we are facilitating those vaccinations at the convention center. And we are really at the mercy of the state and the county. I will give a big shout out to our county commissioners that have committed to having our vaccinations at the convention center. This week we are having 2,000 and hopefully it looks like the trend, it looks like that will continue somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 per week. We need more but we will take everything that we can get. And so they are out there right now at the convention center, wrapping up for the vaccinations.
“And, of course, this weather has had an impact on all of us. We opened up some facilities yesterday. We are on the fourth day of no power and people are in frigid temperatures in their homes. Hopefully we will get out of this by Saturday. That is what it is looking like. But we do have two community centers that are open overnight. It will get pretty cold tonight so we may have some folks out there. We are providing food over at Palm View.
“The next big thing that is going on around is the water situation. It is not lack of water it is just they don’t have power to run the water plants. So we are providing water to a couple of our neighboring cities. A third one we are unable to just because we did not have the capacity to do that. We are very lucky we have not lost power at the water plant. But we do have a tremendous amount of generation power if we do. But we do not want to do that. We don’t want to go to generators.
“Those are the big things and, oh, and we do have an election going on and as you all know, during an election season folks lose their minds. So, we are dealing with that.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez.
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