Tropical Storm Hermine Threatens Texas-Mexico Coast
Tropical Storm Hermine Threatens Texas-Mexico Coast

Tropical Storm Hermine is heading for the area around Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Mexico, where the border meets the Gulf of Mexico.  People on both sides of the border are preparing for a possible meter-high surge of water, heavy winds and torrential rain.  

For the second time in three months, people in the Brownsville-Matamoros region are preparing for a major storm, and the mudslides and flooding it could bring.  On June 30, the region was slammed by Hurricane Alex, which was the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2010 season.

Officials in Mexico are especially concerned about the impact Hermine could have on residents in low-lying areas or in areas near hillsides that could collapse if soaked by heavy rain.

Rafaela Lima, a nurse with the Red Cross in Valle Hermoso, Mexico says preparations are underway.

She says local officials are coordinating with the Red Cross in advance of the storm.

Mexican Civil Protection has established refuges for people displaced by flooding, which is also a concern on the U.S. side of the border.

Jeff Johnston is Emergency Management Coordinator for the city of Brownsville:

"A lot of the preparations that we are focusing on have to deal with flooding issues, simply because if we get as much rain as is being predicted, it could be problematic for those residents here in Brownsville and others in the south Texas area," said Jeff Johnston.

Johnston says emergency services officials on both sides of the border maintain contact whenever a major storm approaches and that they operate under a longstanding agreement to share resources and personnel.

"Brownsville and Matamoros had the first sister city agreement along the U.S.-Mexico border that relates to emergency crews moving back and forth across the border during large-scale emergencies or disasters," he said. "So we have close contact with civil protection in Mexico."

This already is a bad year for flooding in Mexico.  Thousands of people have been forced from their homes in central and southern states like Tabasco and Veracruz.  Flooding has also caused displacements in Guerrero state on the country's west coast.

Meanwhile, forecasters are keeping a wary eye on the remnants of Tropical Storm Gaston, which dissipated within a day after forming on September 1st in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.  Now experts say the storm could strengthen as it enters the warm waters of the western Atlantic and that it could threaten the Caribbean region.  Gaston is one of four named storm systems that have developed in the Atlantic Ocean within the past two weeks.