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Storms lead to flooded streets, power outages

A Jeep drives through water flowing over Canoncito Drive Monday morning in Enchanted Lands Park. The National Weather Service measured 4.61 inches of rain at the Roswell Air Center from Sunday and early Monday. (Juno Ogle Photo)

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Local Memorial Day events canceled or postponed due to rain

Thunderstorms and torrential downpours pounded Chaves County Sunday into Monday morning, producing flooded streets, power outages and prompting the cancellation of two Memorial Day events.

A pickup truck drives through a flooded intersection Monday morning at West College Boulevard and North Nevada Avenue on the west side of Cielo Grande Recreation Area. (Juno Ogle Photo)

Beginning in the higher elevations of Lincoln County and then gradually moving to the southeast, the storm brought with it thunder, lightning and heavy rain, Clay Anderson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said.

Anderson said that south Roswell, near the Roswell Air Center, received 4.61 inches of rain. That is well above the 1.1 inches of rainfall that is the average for Chaves County in the month of May.

“By far the heaviest amount, you know, occurred in south Roswell,” Anderson said. He added that the area southeast of Roswell, near Midway, got 3.58 inches, with some some reports of ping pong ball-sized hail south of the city.

Though rainfall is not unusual for May in the area, Anderson said such a substantial amount in such a brief period of time is uncommon.

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“That’s something we don’t see every day,” Anderson said.

Because of the weather and the flooding it spawned, veterans groups did not go forward with two Memorial Day events.

In a post on the city of Roswell Facebook page Monday morning, it was announced that a ceremony hosted by Chaves County Veterans at the Gen. Douglas L. McBride Veteran’s Cemetery would be canceled.

Speakers at the event were to include Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh, Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington and state Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell.

Another event honoring veterans, organized by American Legion Posts 28 and 61 at Memory Lawn Memorial Park cemetery, was postponed. Though the rain had ceased prior to the event’s scheduled start time, Stephen Lee, commander of Post 61, said conditions were too muddy to press forward with the ceremony, which is now rescheduled for July 3.

In Roswell and surrounding communities, rising waters wreaked havoc.

Wes Reeves of Xcel Energy said there were a total of 28 power outages in the Roswell area, which impacted 850 customers.

RPD officers and other first responders had to assist some motorists Sunday and Sunday night who were stranded in vehicles on waterlogged streets, Todd Wildermuth, public information officer for the city of Roswell, said. Some city facilities were among those that experienced flooding.

“The air center terminal had some flooding inside last night and the Recreation and Aquatic Center had some water inside this morning, but each of these buildings have been taken care of and are OK,” Wildermuth said Monday. He added that South Park Cemetery was also hit by flooding from storms Sunday and Monday morning.

High water levels turned some intersections into bodies of water and forced the closure of some streets within city limits. Stretches of Poe and Hobbs streets located between Main and Southeast Main streets were closed to traffic for a period of time.

One block of Union Avenue, near Alameda Street, was also blocked off, Wildermuth said.

Outside the city limits, the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office and first responders had to deal with similar situations. Sheriff Mike Herrington said Sunday night and early Monday morning deputies were dispatched to various areas, in some cases to rescue stranded motorists and people inside trailer homes that water had seeped into.

Herrington said many people were stranded in stalled vehicles, forcing the closure of U.S. 285 between Roswell and Artesia between 10 p.m. Sunday and early Monday. Motorists were forced to find alternate routes.

Justin Powell, chief of Dexter Fire and Rescue, said some areas of Dexter were under water. “Lots and lots of water,” he said.

Multiple homes in the Orchard Park area had water in them, Powell added.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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