EDINBURG, Texas — South Texans eager to salvage what they can from waterlogged homes struck by Hurricane Dolly have another problem: The floodwaters they're slogging through are laced with stinging fire ants, snakes and tarantulas.
"You don't want to wade in this water," state Health Services Commissioner David Lakey said during a visit to the Rio Grande Valley on Friday. "You don't want to play in this water. You want to stay out of this water."
Residents in many neighborhoods with waist-deep water had little choice as they sifted through the mess left by the Category 2 storm that hit the eastern Texas and Mexico coasts Wednesday. In eastern Hidalgo County, as much as 12 inches of rain fell in six hours, turning neighborhoods into coffee-colored lakes.
Officials estimated it could take six weeks for the low-lying region to completely dry out, and 118,000 people still had no electricity Friday morning. Emergency managers said they were beginning to pump water from some of the worst hit areas and were working to move water into floodways.
Residents were using backhoes to dig their own drainage canals and clear water off their property, but the water simply flowed into the neighbors' yards. Tempers among longtime neighbors were becoming strained.