A portion of the Mexico-US border wall blew down on Wednesday following a high wind advisory in the southeastern California area. Officials say the wall was undergoing renovations when unusually strong gusts blew a panel over onto the Mexican side.
Video from CNN affiliate KYMA on the Mexico side of the border shows a large portion of the wall leaning against trees in Mexicali as dirt blows around the construction site.
IFLScience spoke with Agent Carlos Pitones of the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) sector in El Centro, California, who confirmed that a portion of the wall undergoing renovations fell over due to high winds.
Contractors were in the process of securing new panels as part of an ongoing project to upgrade approximately 17.7 kilometers (11 miles) of “dilapidated” fencing in the Calexico area along the California-Mexico border, said Pitones.
“Right after the panels are inserted into the ground, [the contractors] pour concrete at the base of these panels,” he added. “So, the issue was that the concrete wasn’t cured yet because it was still wet. With the strong winds, it pushed the panels over.”
A high wind advisory was in effect for the area of southeast California, with wind speeds between 32 and 48 kilometers per hour (20 and 30 miles per hour) and gusts up to 72 kph (45 mph), reported KYMA at the time. Strong winds blowing at this rate require objects outdoors to be secured and caution to be taken, notes the National Weather Service. No injuries or other damages were reported.
A cornerstone of President Trump’s election campaign, the border wall has received both praise and criticism in recent months. Supporters argue that it is an essential part of national security.
“We strongly believed that the border wall system is still imperative in securing our borders,” said Pitones, adding that this portion is slated to be completed by the end of the year.
On the other hand, opponents say that the border wall is an unnecessary economic burden and may cause detrimental environmental impacts. In February 2019, the president declared a national emergency to bypass Congress and build additional barriers along the wall to the chagrin of many ecologists and environmentalists. A 2018 analysis published in BioScience found that the wall threatens biodiversity and conservation progress between Mexico and the US. Thousands of scientists around the globe endorsed the article at the time, urging public leaders to consider wildlife when making decisions about national security.
Construction crews have halted their work temporarily until the winds die down and will continue working on the project as weather permits.