August 4, 2010 | KRGV Channel 5 News | Original Article

A Woman's Journey to Get Counted by Census

WESLACO -  A Valley woman who tried for months to get counted by the U.S. Census Bureau finally got her wish.

Petra Pena waited for her form, called the 800-number, and watched for the Census worker at her front door. The census came and went, and Pena never got counted until today.

"I live in Weslaco on 12th Street and the mayor lives in my neighborhood," Pena tells us.

At the beginning of the year when she did not receive her census form, she called the the customer service line. She asked for a form, but the representatives told her a census worker would come by her home and count her.

She waited for the next phase of the census process, as workers went door-to-door across the Valley. No one ever knocked on her door.

She tried to call the census toll-free number several times. "I got a recording, and there was no way to talk to a live body," Pena tells us. She forgot about the census until she saw our report on the census deadline.

"The census isn't the only thing on my mind. But when I saw the newscast, I thought, 'The deadline is at 9 p.m., let me get on the phone, and let me remind them I didn't get a form,'" she says.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS called the Census Bureau to get some answers. A spokeswoman gave us a new number for Pena to use in order to get counted.

The first thing she noticed when she dialed the number was that a person picked up the phone.  Until now, she was always stuck with an automated system.

In less than 10 minutes, Pena was counted.

"I feel better that we are (counted). It's additional monies for the city, but I'm concerned there's other people who aren't counted," she said.

The U.S. Census Bureau spokeswoman tells us she couldn't say why Pena was never counted. She explains it's an operational issue and the Census Bureau cannot release any information on its operations.

The spokeswoman says the bureau gave people many opportunities to be counted. It's hard to say how many people haven't been counted, but census workers are still on the ground in the Valley triple checking counts until September.

If you have not been counted by the Census Bureau, there's a new customer number service number available.  It's 1-800-923-8282.