Home News Local News Local officials work on flood disaster declaration

Local officials work on flood disaster declaration

0
A pickup drives down a flooded Hobson Road on Tuesday past the New Mexico National Guard Armory. Water from heavy rains Sunday and Monday breached a flood-control structure west of the city and was continuing to flood south Roswell. (Juno Ogle Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The city of Roswell and Chaves County intend to prepare a disaster declaration given that a “100-year rain event” occurred over the weekend and has caused high-water levels at area dams and a breach of a flood control berm.

County Manager Bill Williams said that county and city administrators and engineers met Wednesday morning with Karen Sanders, manager of the Roswell-Chaves County Emergency Management Office, and Dick Smith, superintendent of the Chaves County Flood Commission, to begin work on the filing.

“We have to have at least $250,000 in damage to public infrastructure to make a filing,” he said. “With roads that flooded from prior events and with the current situation, we think we can definitely meet that amount.”

To be official, a disaster declaration requires the approval of governing bodies, in this case, the Chaves County Board of Commissioners and Roswell City Council. But Williams said the documents can be signed by a chair or chief official and then approved later by the entire group.

He said a disaster declaration would make funds available to public entities and allow individuals and businesses to make disaster claims on their insurance filings, but it also would enable help from the U.S. Army National Guard or other agencies for repairs to the failed levee or perhaps adding of a gate to one of the dams that lacks one now.    

Support Local Journalism
Subscribe to the Roswell Daily Record today.

Williams said the rain that started falling heavily in the area on Saturday and continued through Monday was a 100-year flood event.

“A 100-year flood event for this area is when we get 5.2 inches of rain in a 24-hour period,” he said. “We got 5 inches at the airport in 24 hours, and we got 4.8 inches at the Brown Brothers Ranch, where the levee is at.”

According to a city of Roswell news release issued Wednesday, standing water is still seen on the south side of Roswell, including at the Roswell Air Center.

“Several city streets remain closed to through traffic or all traffic Wednesday in the area impacted by the flooding,” the news release stated. “Motorists are discouraged from driving through flooded streets and are urged to seek alternate routes.”

Williams said the area has three floodwater diversion points. There are two dams controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Diamond A Dam and the Rocky Dam. The northern dam, or the Diamond A, has a gate to allow overflow to go to the Hondo River. Mayor Dennis Kintigh said that he understands that the Corps of Engineers has now shut that gate to help limit Hondo River waterflows, saying “every inch counts” at this point.

The Rocky Dam, which has no gate, flows to the Rocky Dam Arroyo, which then goes to the area of the third floodwater diversion point, a levee-type structure, or berm, about 1.25 miles west of the city.

Williams and Kintigh said that the berm has failed, and the city of Roswell news release noted that water to the south side of Roswell is coming from that source.

“Nobody knew exactly what the problem was until Ms. Sanders flew yesterday,” said Kintigh, explaining that the Roswell Air Center made arrangements for her to take a helicopter to the berm area. “We had flooding through our city streets that was appalling, but we did not know where it was coming from.”

Kintigh said he also has heard that the Felix River near Dexter might be flooding areas near that town as well, although no details are known at this point.

Williams said that it could be three to four weeks before people can reach the berm area to work on it, which is why the National Guard could be asked to assist.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

Previous articleEntire state at Turquoise Level until fully open
Next articleMargie Fay Rocha
Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.