Hurricane Hanna’s aftermath will slow the U.S.-Mexico border trucking industry temporarily, as some key freight lanes were closed as of Monday, July 27, according to trade officials
“The challenge today will be for trucks circumventing surface roads with standing water between the warehouses and freeways. Expect transportation-related delays as a result for the next few days as the region dries up,” said Dante Galeazzi, the president and CEO of the Texas International Produce Association (TEXIPA).
TEXIPA is based in Mission, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, one of the regions where Hanna dumped as much as 20 inches of rain on Saturday and Sunday (July 25-26), and produced sustained winds of 90 mph.
“The city of Edinburg reported on Sunday morning that at least three 18-wheelers had blown over on State Highway 281 and were being cleared off the roads,” Galeazzi said.
Border officials said all Texas-Mexico ports of entry and international bridges are open for business, including the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge and the World Trade Bridge in Laredo.
“The commercial cargo facilities within the Laredo field office are fully functional and have not changed their hours of operation,” said Armando Taboada, assistant director of field operations at the Laredo Field Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in an email to customs officials and media on Monday.
In addition to the Laredo and Pharr ports of entry, the CBP Laredo Field Office oversees cargo facilities in the cities of Roma, Del Rio, Brownsville, Eagle Pass, Rio Grande City and Progreso.
While the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge is open, some of the main feeder roads around the bridge were still flooded as of Monday morning, said Aaron Acosta, corporate relations manager for Pharr-based Villita Avocados.
“McColl, Jackson and 10th street [in Pharr and McAllen] – which are the main thoroughfares going north from the Pharr International bridge – no truck or car traffic was heading north because the flood zone is still almost at capacity,” Acosta said.
Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge has been the busiest entry point for Mexican produce into the U.S. for the past three years.
Villita Avocados, which imports Hass avocados from the state of Michoacán in central Mexico, averages around 30 to 50 trucks per week at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge.
Acosta said he was working from home today, since the road to his company’s produce warehouse was also flooded.
“We’re just pushing orders 24 hours,” Acosta said. “I am thinking, tomorrow morning, if there’s no more rain, or anything else that pops up, things will be back to normal.”
In addition to disrupting truck routes, Galeazzi said Hurricane Hanna also affected crops in South Texas.
“Cotton is really the big crop right now, and those damages are likely to be extensive,” Galeazzi said. “Produce-wise, the big issue will be Texas grapefruit and oranges. While it’s still too early to tell the extent of the damage and the impact to the crop, a lot of folks reported a lot of young fruit had been knocked off the trees due to the high winds.”