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Governor declares emergency after continued flooding

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  • Dams that divert water from La Union, N.M., south of Las Cruces, burst yesterday, leaving many roads completely washed out. (Courtesy Mario Delgado, Janet Ortiz)

  • Dams that divert water from La Union, N.M., south of Las Cruces, burst yesterday, leaving many roads completely washed out. (Courtesy Mario Delgado, Janet Ortiz)

  • Dams that divert water from La Union, N.M., south of Las Cruces, burst yesterday, leaving many roads completely washed out. (Courtesy Mario Delgado, Janet Ortiz)

  • Dams that divert water from La Union, N.M., south of Las Cruces, burst yesterday, leaving many roads completely washed out. (Courtesy Mario Delgado, Janet Ortiz)

  • Dams that divert water from La Union, N.M., south of Las Cruces, burst yesterday, leaving many roads completely washed out. (Courtesy Mario Delgado, Janet Ortiz)

  • Dams that divert water from La Union, N.M., south of Las Cruces, burst yesterday, leaving many roads completely washed out. (Courtesy Mario Delgado, Janet Ortiz)

  • Bandelier National Monument floods on Friday morning after heavy rain drenched the area. Bandelier will be closed Friday and Saturday, but will open Sunday if weather permits. (National Park Service)

  • Heavy rainfall over the last few days has caused a "drop inlet" to fail, creating a 20-foot-deep sinkhole in the median of I-40 20 miles west of Albuquerque. (NMDOT)

  • Joey Montoya, a forestry tech with the Santa Clara Forestry Dept. processes sand bags to stop flooding in Santa Clara Pueblo. on Friday. (Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/Journal)

  • Water rises at Bridge Street in Las Vegas, NM, Friday Sept. 13, 2013. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

  • Flooding at 12th Street and Columbia in Las Vegas, NM. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

  • Truth or Consequences resident Candie Browne dips her boot in running water to clean off the mud. In the background a backhoe builds a levy to redirect rain water from flooding a park near downtown. Truth or Consequences, N.M. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

  • Charles Herrera rides his bicycle in the rain on Fourth Street in the North Valley, during a rain storm, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, in Albuquerque, N.M. The New Mexico National Guard and other rescue crews evacuated dozens of campers and residents who were stranded by floodwaters along the Pecos River as New Mexico was drenched Thursday by another round of record rainfall.(AP Photo/The Albuquerque Journal, Marla Brose)

  • A motorist traveling north on Hwy 28 near Gadsden High School in Anthony, N.M. braves the depths of the flooded roadway Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 after consistent heavy rainfall swept through southern New Mexico. (AP PHOTO/Las Cruces Sun-News, Shari Vialpando-Hill)

  • Cars and trucks make their way through flooded sections on Second Street in the North Valley during Thursday’s rain. Enough rain fell Thursday to break a more-than-70-year-old daily record. (marla brose/journal)

  • An arroyo that runs underneath Dunn Drive on the East Mesa in Las Cruces, N.M. flows with heavy rainwater Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 after a severe thunderstorm hit Dona Ana County and surrounding areas over night and through the early morning. (Shari Vialpando-Hill/Las Cruces Sun-News)

  • Annette Maldonado, left, and Claudia Herrera use straw brooms to sweep out the flood waters that drenched the interior of a business in Anthony, N.M. on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013.

7:23 p.m. — Thirty people are being evacuated from flood-risk of San Felipe Pueblo, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and officials warn floods could threaten Interstate 25.

The 30 people are evacuating with the help of the BIA and Red Cross, and they’re being sent to San Felipe Elementary School.

The evacuation order is only in effect for areas near the arroyo, which is rapidly rising. It is currently at 11 feet.

Keep with ABQJournal.com for updates.

7:11 p.m. — The National Weather Service in Albuquerque has issued a flash flood warning for the Albuquerque area until 8:30 p.m.

Much of Albuquerque was preparing Friday evening for the impact of floodwaters headed down the Rio Grande. The flood was raging past dams at levels rarely seen since the 1960s.

The river was expected to flow into the bosque and potentially reach Albuquerque levees, officials said at a late afternoon news conference. But the flow was not expected to rise above any levees, according to Mike Hamman of the Bureau of Reclamation.

“It will not threaten the levees in any way,” Hamman said.

The only potential risky spot, officials said, was an area of older levees in Bosque Farms in Valencia County, a frequent trouble spot in storms. Crews plan to be out overnight monitoring the levees to make sure there are no problems and to jump in to quickly to fix them if needed, said David Gensler of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.

Experts were projecting Rio Grande levels in the Albuquerque area to be 5 to 12 feet above normal.

Keep with ABQJournal.com for updates.

4:29 p.m. — Gov. Susana Martinez has issued a state of emergency for the entire state, citing “historic, record-breaking rainfall”.

The emergency declaration frees up as much as $750,000 for flood response. The declaration mentioned evacuations of hundreds of people in Eddy, Sierra and San Miguel counties, in addition to infrastructure damage.

Also, the county commissions of Guadalupe, Eddy and Sierra counties also intend to make emergency declarations, according to the Governor’s executive order.

The flooding continued Friday in the San Felipe Pueblo, where flood waters inundated areas along the river and tributaries. Water levels rival those of the late 1930s and early 1940s, according to the National Weather Service.

Homes near the rivers are being flooded, and other structures in the “old pueblo” are also in danger. Flooding of the magnitude in that stretch of the Rio Grande have reached 17,400 cubic feet per second, the highest observed since 1955.

Keep with ABQJournal.com for updates.

2:56 p.m. — The National Weather Service has released new rainfall totals from across the state, and they show that the wet weather system that moved into New Mexico a few days ago still packs some punch.

Here are some of the more noteworthy totals of rainfall collected in the last 62 hours:

  • Pecos at 7″
  • Tijeras at 3.84″
  • Roswell at 5.46″
  • Bonito Lake at 5.27″
  • Los Alamos at 6.1″
  • Tucumcari at 4.04″
  • Farmington at 3.24″
  • Jemez Springs at 3.39″
  • Rio Rancho (Idalia and Rainbows) at 2.17″
  • Socorro at 4.59″

Also, in Albuquerque:

  • Montgomery and Moon at 2.24″
  • Indian School and Wyoming at 2.21″
  • Aztec and San Mateo at 1.99″
  • Sage and 98th Street at 1.63″
  • Zuni and San Mateo at 1.63″
  • Constitution and Girard at 1.43″
  • Central and Coors at 1.28″

2:33 p.m.
Residents of a small southern New Mexico town have broken out shovels to help correct the damage of massive flooding that has left numerous roads washed out, and they say they’ve had little help from county or fire department crews.

Dams that usually divert water from La Union, south of Las Cruces, burst yesterday, leaving many roads completely washed out and homes flooded with dirt and water. A water tank that sits atop a mesa southwest of the town was also damaged, adding drinking water to the deluge, residents said.

“We’ve been the ones who have been shoveling since yesterday,” said resident Irene Ortiz, who rushed home yesterday from her job in El Paso to find access limited and widespread damage. “We’ve just been out there getting wet.”

It’s still raining in La Union. Drinking water and gas are not available to residents, and it’s unclear when they’ll be turned back on, residents said.

No evacuations are necessary, residents said, and no one has been injured. Access to and from the town, while difficult, is possible. The town has a population of around 1,100 people, according to USA.com

Patricia Medellin said she’s been calling county, state and federal officials about the dams, which she said were already faulty, since before and after the flood. The Dona Ana County fire department hasn’t yet provided sandbags to help with the flooding, she said.

“This time, it’s so bad. I’m telling you,” she said. “A lot of the roads are gone.”


Video: The instersection of San Antonio and Sentenario in La Union, N.M., was washed away after a dam burst. (Courtesy: Mario Delgado)

 


2:05 p.m. State transportation officials have ordered Interstate 40 reduced to one lane in both directions around 20 miles west of Albuquerque at To’hajiilee, according to The Associated Press.  Heavy rainfall over the last few days has caused a “drop inlet” to fail, creating a 20-foot-deep sinkhole in the median, officials said.

And Rio Rancho Schools announced Friday afternoon that it would keep some students at schools because of the dangerous conditions. District spokesman Peter Wells said school buses will be unable to transport students after heavy rains made conditions unsafe on dirt roads.


1:50 p.m.

Between 100 and 200 people are stranded on the west bank of the Animas and Las Palomas creeks in Sierra County, and they’re under voluntary evacuation.

The National Guard is on the way to bring 26 guardsmen who will set up checkpoints, in addition to half a dozen heavy-duty rescue vehicles to aid in the evacuation. A hospital helicopter is monitoring the floods there, according to Sierra County Sheriff Joe Baca.

A portion of Highway 187 between Williamsburg and Las Palomas has been shut down to the flooding, in addition to several county roads. The county road between King Canyon and Caballo is also closed, Baca said.

Both creeks have crested and are flowing above their banks, Baca said. State Police are also en route to bring “higher profile” vehicles to aid in the evacuations.

Some people have already called in to ask for rescue, and several apple orchards have flooded, Baca said.

Today sheriff’s deputies will mostly just focus on maintaining roads and bracing for the potential for more rain.

“It is raining, and there’s more systems coming our way,” Baca said.


1:05 p.m.

At Santa Clara Pueblo, a voluntary evacuation is under way for residents who live in the west side housing area, according to Pueblo Gov. J. Bruce Tafoya. He said about 12-14 homes are affected.

The creek running down Santa Clara Canyon to the residential area is still within its banks, but fully filling them by 12:30 p.m. Based on conversations with the National Weather Service, he said the flow is expected to peak by 2 or 3 p.m.

For residents who choose to leave, an evacuation center has been set up at the TG&Y building next to the Santa Claran casino in Espanola, he said.

Pueblo officials have been in contact with the National Weather Service to track the rainfall. Between 4.6 and 6 inches had fallen in the mountains draining into the canyon overnight, and another 6 inches are expected today, Tafoya said.

Meanwhile, residents are sandbagging some areas around housing and tribal offices, and they have dug ditches around the pueblo’s plaza area to drain some floodwaters, he said.

Tafoya also said he’s asking Los Alamos National Laboratory workers to bypass N.M. 30 today because of fears that the surging waters from Santa Clara Creek might endanger the bridge passing over it.

Also, the Frijoles Canyon section of Bandelier National Monument was closed today because of anticipated flooding, according toa recorded message at the visitor’s center there.

Both Santa Clara and Bandelier are affected by rapid water runoff from land scarred by fires in recent years.


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