Escape from Winter - 2012 travel blog





The first time we came to the Rio Grande Valley in 2005 we were taken aback by how poor this area is. It was flat, windy and dusty. It was easy to imagine a tumbleweed rolling down the empty streets. Many folks lived in houses smaller than our garage that looked like they had never been painted and probably never would be. There were few places to shop and those that we saw had Spanish signs and we weren't always sure what they sold inside. Although there are still too many poor people here, we are pleased to see progress and improvements every time we come. Empty store fronts in Pharr are filled with new businesses. Big box stores and national chains that we take for granted almost everywhere in the US have come to the valley as well. And many of those tiny houses are sporting a fresh coat of paint. Since 2008 the country as a whole has suffered greatly economically, but the valley is noticeably better off.

We also see changes in our campground. 2005 was also the year when Hurricane Katrina decimated the gulf coast, New Orleans in particular. While FEMA was roundly criticized for its lack of responsiveness, but when things started to get moving, tens of thousands of travel trailers were purchased to provide housing for all the people displaced by the storm. By the time the trailers were manufactured, many folks had found alternative places to live, scattering all over the country in some cases. When some folks got trailers there was nowhere to put them. Living in a trailer long term is not practical unless you have water, sewer, electricity - utility hook-ups. Ultimately FEMA found itself with thousands of travel trailers that no one wanted. There were sold for pennies on the dollar and every so often we see one at a campground. Management here purchased about twenty and planted them permanently on sites as rental units. We've spoken to a number of renters here who are happy to join us without having to drive an RV down here. The trailers are equipped with linens, dishes, pots and pans. It's a lot like renting a furnished condo, albeit on a smaller scale. One family enjoyed their trailer so much, they purchased it on site. It's great to see the trailers being used and enjoyed. We all helped to pay for them...

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