Tornado Tears Through Laguna Heights, Recovery and Reconstruction Efforts Continue

Words by Pioquinta

On Saturday, May 13th, a tornado tore through the colonias, residencies, and businesses in Laguna Heights, causing significant damage to the community. It landed at 4:01 AM, lasting five minutes until 4:06 AM, with winds up to 85-106 miles per hour. 41-year-old Robert Flores died as a result of the tornado’s landing. Eleven other people were left with non-life-threatening injuries. The deceased is the first tornado-related death in the RGV since the 20th century

 

Recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation efforts have been ongoing throughout the week. Gaige Davila, a reporter for Texas Public Radio, has reported daily updates, saying:

“Salvation Army and local churches are providing food, water, and other supplies at the corner of Van Buren and Hwy 100 in Laguna Heights. The last day they will be there is tomorrow, Friday, [May 19th]… [For those] who have been displaced that are currently in hotels provided by Salvation Army or others: Cameron County/Red Cross/the City of Port Isabel is opening a shelter at the Port Isabel Community Center (behind the Port Isabel Public Library on Yturria St.) It will have space for 25 people. If more than 25 people come, the county will open another shelter locally. If the shelter is not occupied by Sunday, the county will close the shelter.”

Additionally, Davila reports that a “permanent housing solution” is needed for those displaced and severely injured within the community. He noted that Robert Reyes (Grubz on the Go) will be cooking plates on Friday along Pennsylvania and Adams from sunup to sundown. 

Facebook Screenshot of a post that says Grubz on the Go with a grill in the background
Photo of clothing

Owner of Grubz on the Go, Robert Reyes Jr., announcing where he’ll be stationed to give away plates and essentials to the Laguna Heights community. Screenshots from Robert Reyes Jr.’s Facebook page.

The destruction left in the wake of the tornado made national headlines, with reports published by Daily Mail, The New York Times, The Hill, NBC News, and more. While this tragedy is being publicized by the country, it’s important during this time to think of the communities impacted by this devastation and the people on the ground who are currently putting in the efforts to help alleviate the weight and offer much-needed resources. 

Reactions were recorded by local community members in the RGV through social media:

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