Del Rio, Texas, as a border town, is not at all immune to issues arising from illegal immigration. While illegal border crossings have always occurred in and around Del Rio, as in every border town, the recent wave of illegal traffic along the US-Mexico border since the election of President Biden has resulted in Del Rio, Texas – among many other border towns, especially in Arizona and Texas – making national headlines on a near daily-basis.
Videos of illegal immigrants freely crossing shallow water of the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico onto US soil along Vega Verde Road in Del Rio and immediately surrendering to awaiting Border Patrol and local law enforcement have captured the attention of millions of Americans. Human traffickers in plain sight, escorting illegal immigrants from over 70 countries, wait on the river on the Mexican side, free to conduct their booming enterprise without fear of apprehension by US law enforcement.
Bus stops and the surrounding stores, fast-food restaurants, and sidewalks in Del Rio, Texas are crowded with illegal family units – many from countries such as Haiti, Venezuela, and several African countries. Many have several young children, and some of the ladies also appear pregnant. Locals (who are very against illegal immigration) don’t even pay too much attention anymore, and law enforcement drives right on past unless a big issue arises – it’s just another day since the crisis began.
So, what is life like in Del Rio, Texas, in the mix of this surge?
Many people who have just moved to the area, or are visiting, have told me that they expected Del Rio to be a tightly-gripped police-state, practically under martial law. From the various media outlets’ portrayal of the border issues, I can see how that impression might be given. But it’s not true, not for Del Rio.
In fact, I’ve never felt safer. I’ve never felt unsafe in Del Rio – even for my family’s sake. I’ve lived in places where murders and armed robberies were a practical nightly occurrence. Del Rio has never been like that, and continues to rank as one of the safest cities in Texas.
Not only has Governor Greg Abbott sent hundreds (to thousands) of Texas State Troopers and other state law enforcement officers to the border to protect Texas state sovereignty (he even plans on funding President Trump’s border wall), but law enforcement officers from around the country are also prevalent in Del Rio – Florida State Police, Ohio Highway Patrol, Nebraska State Police, and Iowa State Police. I’ve even seen a sheriff’s jeep from somewhere in Florida driving through town. Both Governor Abbot and Governor DeSantis of Florida have visited Del Rio, and held a joint conference at the airport.
Hotels in Del Rio are filled to maximum capacity, with almost nothing but Texas DPS cruisers in every parking spot. In a five-minute drive down Veteran’s Boulevard (Highway 90) the other day, I counted six DPS troopers patrolling the roadway. While driving west toward Comstock, Texas, the roadsides – which would normally be spattered with Border Patrol, were packed with both marked and unmarked law enforcement vehicles.
These troopers are here because while Border Patrol is so busy apprehending docile family units crossing illegally at the Rio Grande, human smugglers and drug-traffickers are having a heyday transporting contraband (including humans against their will). But the increased law enforcement presence is attempting to curb that.
Governor Greg Abbott (Texas, right) and Governor Ron DeSantis (Florida, center) holding a joint conference at Del Rio International Airport. Florida, among other states, have sent law enforcement personnel and resources to aid Texas in the state's response to the surge in illegal immigration and drug/human trafficking. Source; Texas.gov
Truly, it would be almost impossible to get away with anything illegal in Del Rio right now.
It’s not unsafe at all, here. I rode my bicycle a few months back along Vega Verde Road, just for exercise. I road past the now-famous location seen on Fox News where thousands of illegals are seen wading across the Rio Grande. On the Mexican side, Mexican families were enjoying a day at the river. On the American side, patriotic Americans had US and Texas flags flying on their boat docks. Just another day on the river.
In town, the influx of law enforcement has allowed some of the city police and county deputies to return to their normal duties of patrolling the city and county. While the Val Verde County Sheriff’s Office remains heavily taxed, especially due to the jailing of so many captured human smugglers, Del Rio Police Department has largely been able to keep a handle on the day-to-day patrolling of the city limits – and there hasn’t been any notable increase in crime.
The reason is two-fold.
First, the vast majority of illegal immigrants are not criminals. They don’t want trouble, and they are respectful, well-mannered people. They are simply fleeing their broken countries. I don’t have to agree with their reason for illegally entering the United States under broken immigration policies to understand that they are humans, and that they ultimately just want a better life for their families. They don’t cause trouble. And, Del Rio does a great job of processing illegal immigrants, and send them on their way. The illegal immigrants really aren’t interested in settling in Del Rio, so every effort is made to get them on a bus and sent to San Antonio, where they disperse to their destination of choice. They don’t have time to cause any trouble, even if they actually wanted to.
Second, Del Rio sits on the border-side of the highway checkpoints. Border Patrol checkpoints require all vehicle traffic to stop for inspection. They are a second-layer of protection between the Customs checkpoint at the actual border and the rest of the United States. Between the border and these checkpoints, organized criminal activity does everything it can to fly under-the-radar. They don’t cause issues. There is simply too much surveillance and law enforcement. These criminals do everything in their power to get their contraband on the other side of the checkpoint as quickly and quietly as possible, where they can then freely operate across the United States under far less law enforcement pressure. This makes Del Rio very safe, but surrounding towns outside of the checkpoints much more dangerous.
So, all-in-all, while the media has the story partially correct, Del Rio remains a safe place – perhaps safer than ever. Those who need to be most concerned about reaping the first, second, and third-order consequences of this crisis of illegal immigration are those in the cities removed from the border.
Weather Forensics: The Broken Storm-Damage Insurance Claim System | A Forensic Meteorologist's Perspective
Over 90% of presidential-declared disasters are caused by weather.
According to the National Weather Service, American's GDP varies by up to 3.4% due to weather, or about $545 Billion.
In 2016, 6.8 Million homes were at risk of Hurricane storm surge alone, equating to over $1.5 Trillion.
Billion-dollar storms are on the uptick, and there are likely several storms each year that are significantly underestimated in damage value.
The key pieces of information that are nearly always missing from the insurance claims process are the actual meteorological facts.
Billions to Trillions of dollars are riding on the line each year when it comes to storm damage. Storm damage is an industry - construction, restoration, adjusting, engineering, insurance, appraising, litigating, and so-on. The key pieces of information that are nearly always missing from the insurance claims process are the actual meteorological facts.
Wouldn't it make sense that the weather information be the first step in a complicated, expensive, time-consuming, storm damage insurance claim?
Sure. It would.
And most firms believe this to be true. But they never hire a meteorologist - they think that they solve this problem by either relying on elementary weather knowledge from professional engineers (who are generally not meteorologists), or they pay some pocket-change (generally under $100) for an automated weather report from one of the many "industry-standard" wind or hail services - which generally have no human (not to mention, no meteorologist) input or analysis.
Wouldn't it makes sense that the weather information be the first step in a complicated, expensive, time-consuming storm damage insurance claim?
It is no secret that these weather reports so often fail in their ability to swiftly assist in a storm damage claim. Rarely, if ever, do they carry much weight in court, especially when a smart trial lawyer can easily motion to strike or exclude any meteorological testimony that is not that of an eyewitness or a professional meteorologist.
A smart trial lawyer can easily motion to strike or exclude any meteorological testimony that is not that of an eyewitness or a professional meteorologist
Here's what I notice most often about initial weather information used in an insurance dispute, after a thorough, independent analysis of my own:
When I am brought into a storm damage dispute - whether pre-litigation or during litigation - it is usually pretty easy for me to determine - as a meteorologist - which party has a stronger case (in terms of weather, not policy).
I know that real quick, actually. So, why aren't actual meteorologists brought into the claims process well before the dispute explodes into litigation? Beats me!
When I am brought into a storm damage dispute, it is usually pretty easy for me to determine which party has a stronger case.
Here are some real-life examples in my own experience:
- Hired by Plaintiff Attorney. Previously, said attorney utilized a $15 automated weather report, which had analyzed the wrong hail storm, using the wrong weather radar, ending up with a very wrong conclusion over the subject property.
- Hired by a General Contractor. Successfully rebutted an insurance-carrier engineer report (weather appendix) because a severe weather report contained a typo, misrepresenting a storm that did not exist. Large-loss claim.
Previously, said attorney utilized a $15 automated weather report. Wrong storm. Wrong weather radar. Wrong Conclusion.
- Hired by Adjuster: Insurance carrier claimed that a record-breaking hail storm was a result of a Hurricane, and thus the Hurricane deductible was in play. Said hurricane was over 1,000 miles away, and they generally do not produce record-breaking hail anyway. Claim was paid.
- Hired by Defense Attorney: During subrogation, I successfully rebutted a weather report by the Plaintiff which did not adequately examine wind speeds within a reasonable proximity to a subject property, or compare the said wind speeds to the widespread wind damage which occurred in the subject property's vicinity, which could reasonably be determined as far-stronger than the proposed winds, by utilizing the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Hundreds of thousands of dollar settled.
- Hired by Plaintiff Attorney: Successfully rebutted the insurance carrier's weather report because scientific methodologies were flawed, and no evidence was provided in the weather report to support the conclusions within. $2 Million paid.
Insurance carrier claimed that a record-breaking hail storm was a result of a Hurricane...said Hurricane was over 1,000 miles away.
In conclusion: Do you trust your weather information for an insurance claim?
Do you trust your weather information for an insurance claim?
Dan Schreiber is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist and owner of STWX Strategic, a meteorology consulting firm specializing in forensic meteorology in the aviation and insurance claims industries. He has performed hundreds of weather investigations in over 20 states, and his testimony has never been stricken or excluded from a court of law.
To contact Dan, please click here.
If you have orders to Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas, chances are that unless you personally requested them, you may be a tad disappointed. Don't worry, most folks don't have the greatest enthusiasm right off the bat, either.
My biggest piece of advice - don't listen to anyone, or anything - that hasn't lived here. I can't tell you the number of people that gave me weird looks when I said my family was moving to Del Rio, and how many people remarked "eww" and "who did you piss off?". But these people had never experienced Del Rio - they simply ignorantly classified the town with all other cartel-infested border towns that politics, the media, and Hollywood would like you to believe is the case. But, it's not true.
The Del Rio area is home to several state parks (Seminole Canyon, Devils River, Devils Sinkhole, Kickapoo Caverns, Lost Maples, Garner, and more), a National Recreation Area (basically, just like a National Park) known as Lake Amistad and known for its bass fishing, several rivers (Rio Grande, Devils River, Pecos River, and nearby Nueces & Frio Rivers, among others), a city creek with several swimming holes, a waterfall, and rope swings, historic Fort Clark (in nearby Brackettville), the world famous Super-Bull George Paul Memorial bull riding event, and more.
In short, Del Rio isn't short on attractions or things to do, nor is it a pit of doom, like some folks - who have never lived here - will say.
Del Rio's crime rate puts it at one of the safest in the State of Texas. In fact, even witnessing a crime is rare. Most people are generally honest, and live a slower pace of life than folks that are used to the hustle and bustle. The amount of law enforcement in Del Rio, between local, state, and federal agencies, makes it a good chance that your neighbor is probably an officer of the law, especially on the north side of town.
Del Rio has several neighborhoods, with the Alta Vista, Buena Vista, Reservation, and Ceniza Hills being the most popular among military and federal employees. You can find a very nice house in these parts of town, and not have to worry about your kids playing in the streets. Lake Amistad living is also available, outside of the city limits, and more expensive.
South Del Rio is more historic, with large mansions and lots of trees, and many of the original Del Rio families still live there. Central Del Rio (basically the numbered and lettered streets) is modest living, with both older and newer homes and a higher concentration of long-term Del Rio locals.
The San Felipe neighborhood, which constitutes just about everything south and east of San Felipe Creek, used to be it's own town before it was annexed by Del Rio years ago. Many of the original San Felipe natives still live there and take pride in their neighborhood legacy and culture, which is almost entirely Hispanic.
Del Rio does have a commercial airport, serviced affordably by American Airlines twice per day. Amtrak is also available a couple days each week. Both San Antonio and San Angelo are about a two-and-a-half hour drive away, which becomes a "drive down the street" after so many times of doing it.
Del Rio has a hospital, a Walmart, an H-E-B (grocery store), and several home furnishing stores, hardware stores, and auto parts stores. There are plenty of restaurants, too, from typical Mexican food, to Tex-Mex, to barbecue and steak houses, pizza, and even Asian food. Nightlife isn't a big thing in Del Rio, but there are a few places to go for late-night drinks and a social atmosphere. In Acuña (Mexico), the nightlife is more abundant.
There are also several social clubs in town - everything from Rotary, VFW, Lions, and Boy Scouts to Bible study groups, Chamber of Commerce, Library book clubs, Dance clubs, STEM clubs, a Wine club, Art clubs, Karate clubs, and more.
If school is an issue, don't let it be. Between the public school system, several private, alternative, and Christian schools, and a large homeschooling group as well as a community college, most families do not run into issues regarding school choices.
So, don't fret. I always encourage newcomers to explore the area with an open mind upon arrival. Unfortunately, many families do not come with open minds, and they barricade themselves and their families on Laughlin AFB. Do yourself a favor, don't do this! You'll be miss out on a great experience.
Weather information is everywhere these days. From your phone to your TV, to the internet, and even on signage as you drive through town. Weather-on-demand has resulted in many more people becoming aware of hazardous forecasts, but there's one thing that all these sources of information can't provide adequately: Years of Expertise.
If you're reading this, chances are that you are either intrigued by the job title "Forensic Meteorologist", or you are pondering whether hiring one is worthwhile.
Forensic meteorology, like other sciences, involves investigating historical weather events that generally have resulted in an emergency or caused damage, injury, or death. In other cases, forensic meteorology can be used to combat fraud, convict (or acquit) suspected criminals, aid in safety investigations, and even solve cold-case mysteries. Basically, if it is possible that weather could be a factor - or was claimed to be a factor - forensic meteorology can be used to assist in sorting out the unknown.
A recent Pew Research Study revealed that 70% of Americans found that a local news weather forecast is important for everyday life, with another 20% believing it to be important, but to a lesser extent.
If 70-90% of Americans believe that weather forecasts are important - and therefore have an impact on activities - then it's a safe bet that a large chunk of property damage claims, personal injuries and wrongful death lawsuits, motor vehicle accidents, and even criminal actions may have been influenced by the weather, or the weather forecast. In many cases, weather only played a small role, but it's often the small details that have big consequences.
Reason #1) You Need Weather Information For An Exact Location At An Exact Time
The National Weather Service, among other weather websites, can generally provide you with daily weather summaries at many locations across the country. These summaries, however, are not always representative of an incident location, and they rarely have detailed information or timing of particular weather events.
Weather can be highly volatile, and many weather events will impact different parts of a neighborhood differently. A daily summary of high and low temperatures, along with a rainfall total, may be useful for a high school research paper, but probably not when you're battling for your insurance company to pay out, or you're up against a lawsuit for wrongful death.
Even storm reports from severe weather can be useful, but require review by an investigative meteorologist to ensure they reflect the correct location and weather intensity.
Forensic meteorologists can pinpoint your location, analyze weather maps, weather radar, satellite imagery, run calculations and modelling software from the exact location, and develop an expert opinion on all the relevant weather conditions in question.
Reason #2) Your Insurance Tells You That They Won't Pay For Your Weather Damage
First, be sure that what you are claiming really did happen, and that you're supposed to be covered for it. Assuming that there truly is some bad faith going on, then a forensic meteorologist - usually in tandem with a public adjuster or building engineer - may be your best bet.
Just like in Reason #1 above, a forensic meteorologist can determine what sort of weather that your property was subject to on a particular date - or over a period of time. DO NOT assume that the insurance company, the public adjuster, or the building engineer has sufficient knowledge in meteorology to give you an opinion on the weather conditions - they are experts on insurance and damage, not meteorology. Call in the meteorology expert.
Reason #3) You Are Part Of A Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Lawsuit, and Weather Was Hazardous During The Incident
Whether you represent the plaintiff or the defense, a forensic meteorologist may be your big break. Here's why:
In addition to Reason #1 above, when poor weather is occurring, there are generally numerous alerts for this weather, which are all-too-often ignored. Ignoring or failing to take proper precautions for a weather warning may support a claim of negligence. On the other hand, some weather, even when planned adequately for, can be considered an "Act of God", potentially taking some liability away. Either way, a forensic meteorologist can help you sort out all the information for the numerous situations where these issues can arise.
Reason #4) Someone's Story Isn't Adding Up, and Weather May Have Been an Issue
To tell you the truth, an experienced meteorologist is extremely attentive to fine details - especially when they may involve something meteorological. Suspected insurance fraud, for example, can be easily assessed with the help of a forensic meteorologist. Again - don't rely on an engineer or property adjuster for weather expertise.
Questionable witness statements can also be disputed with the help of a sharp forensic meteorologist. Remember, 70-90% of Americans feel as though weather information is important for daily living. Could a witness have forgotten (whether intentionally or not) about certain weather conditions as they are recalling an incident? It has happened!
Wrapping It All Up
If you think you may need a forensic meteorologist, call one. Many will offer free consultations, while some will even briefly look into your case for a nominal fee (or even at no charge) to see if they can truly help before setting up a contract.
Many forensic meteorologists have specialties, or are more familiar with certain geographic locations or particular weather events. For example, a forensic meteorologist who specializes in tropical weather may be best fit when dealing with hurricane damage. A forensic aviation meteorologist will likely be the most helpful in weather-related aviation cases. Winter weather experts may be best for cases involving ice and snow, while a forensic marine meteorologist may be best for cases involving the shipping industry. Many forensic meteorologists have multiple specialties, so be sure to ask when you call.
Dan Schreiber is a forensic and emergency management meteorologist, and has been consulted on numerous cases involving property damage, airplane crashes, wrongful deaths, downed power lines, hurricane destruction, and more. Contact Dan HERE.
Become a Weather Observer, Volunteer With CoCoRaHS! A Great Experience For Young Children & Senior Citizens Alike
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is a non-profit weather observing network with thousands of volunteers across the United States, Canada, and The Bahamas. These volunteer weather observers take daily weather reports from their homes and businesses and submit them to the CoCoRaHS database, which is used to help meteorologists create forecasts, publish weather alerts to save lives and property, and assist in the diverse professional meteorology community.
The best part about it – it only takes a few minutes each day, you can do it from home, and the only requirement is to have enthusiasm about watching and reporting the weather, with a desire to learn.
What’s really cool is that CoCoRaHS is utilized in the United States by the National Weather Service and other professional meteorological agencies. If you record an inch of rain at your house and report it to CoCoRaHS via their online platform, the National Weather Service and other meteorologists will use it to assist in forecasting. If you report large hail, flooding, or other dangerous weather – your report will be documented and remain valuable for research, insurance claims, damage surveys, among other professional uses. Weekly condition monitoring reports are also submitted by hundreds to thousands of users to assist in drought monitoring.
Here’s the thing – it’s so easy to become a part of the program, my toddler daughter even does it with me. While I’m a professional meteorologist, it’s an absolute blast walking out each morning with my youngster who is still trying to learn her ABC’s to check the rain gauge. Through the routine, she learns the very basics about weather and its effects, about the responsibility of making accurate reports, about getting work done on time, and – very important – that Dad’s job is pretty cool.
So, how do you start?
It’s easy! Go to CoCoRaHS.org, then click “Join CoCoRaHS” on the left side of the webpage. Volunteering is absolutely free, but you will need to purchase a high-quality rain gauge of certain specifications before you can make rainfall reports to ensure that reports are standardized across the network using the same equipment. I’ve listed some websites below (price may or may not include shipping). There is also online training on the CoCoRaHS website, and a local coordinator will get in touch with you to assist in any questions you may have. That’s it!
It’s so easy, everyone should do it. Become an important part of CoCoRaHS today!