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On Fronteras: Flooding In Texas, Crafting A Border Wetland, And Raising Farmers In New Mexico

Mose Buchele
Erik Adams cleans out his family's San Marcos apartment Tuesday.

This week on Fronteras:

--Deadly flooding as nearly non-stop rain sets a new record in Texas, sweeping away lives and homes. Residents want help.

--State Climatologist John Nielson-Gammon explains the stormy weather.

--Along the border in West Texas: Building a winged wetland paradise.

--Some Texas high school seniors face graduation limbo trying to pass STAAR tests.

-- New Mexico raises a new crop of successful, young farmers.

Record Texas Rain Spawns Deadly Floods

Texas storms that brought flooding and a tornado, took the lives of at least 17 people this past week as relentless rain poured down in North, South and Central Texas. 13 people are still missing as we tape this broadcast. 

This could be the wettest May in Texas history.  Extreme drought had been an issue in parts of Texas but with nearly non-stop rain this month, that’s no longer the case.

Destruction from the deadly flooding is adding up. Water invaded more than one thousand homes and some were swept away. Texas Governor Greg Abbot has declared 46 counties disaster areas and President Obama has sent FEMA workers in to assess the devastation.   In San Marcos, flooded residents who lost their homes are trying to make sense of what happened and what comes next.  As KUT’s Mose Buchele reports, those who survived are looking for help and trying to figure out where they are going to live. 


Climatologist Details Stormy Weather Trend

The rain has been wide spread across the state drenching and flooding major cities like Austin and Houston. The swollen Blanco River took away entire neighborhoods in Wimberly. Highways in Houston, Texas’ biggest city, were underwater as people tried to return to work after Memorial Day weekend. The damage wasn’t just contained to Texas however. Just across the border in Cuidad Acuna, Mexico, a tornado killed at least 13 people and ripped apart homes and businesses in the community.

Are these storms unusual?  Are they over?  Texas Public Radio’s Shelley Kofler talked with Texas’s State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University


Building a Border Wetland Paradise

Now to West Texas, where land is wet but for a different reason.   A nature wetland is now under construction along the US - Mexico border on the Rio Grande.  That river has lost huge swaths of bird habitat as water is diverted for farming and human consumption. And this new wetland will be the first on the Rio Grande to use treated wastewater to restore habitat. This comes as Congress is considering a bipartisan bill to extend funding for the construction of mad-made wetlands. The story from Fronteras reporter Lorne Matalon of Marfa Public Radio.


Seniors Face Graduation Limbo

Thousands of students in North Texas are just one or two tests away from graduating high school.  This year’s seniors are the first to have to pass five STAAR tests.  Because so many haven’t passed, Governor Greg Abbott recently signed a law giving those students a loophole to the requirement.  But, as KERA’s Diana Douglas reports, some students in Dallas may not know until summer if they’ll get to wear a cap and gown.


Training a New Generation of Farmers

There’s a growing demand for locally grown food in New Mexico where farmers are getting older - average age is 65.  ​The Fronteras Desk's Rita Daniels of KUNM takes a look at a program that aims to inspire and train up-and-coming young farmers.


Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules