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Local relief worker describes flooding impacts

Work to repair a broken flood-control berm might begin as early as next week, if weather conditions permit. The city of Roswell provided this photo Tuesday of the broken berm, with water still flowing into south parts of the city. (Submitted Photo)

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Some Roswell residents and businesses have been dealing with flooded septic systems, flooded water wells, flooded homes and structures, and dead animals and livestock due to the storms last weekend, according to the head of an area relief agency.

Enrique Moreno of the Roswell Community Disaster Relief Services has been working since Sunday to document what people are experiencing and to provide assistance such as pumping water out of homes, providing bottled water, cleaning up properties and pulling vehicles out of flooded areas or mud. Volunteers with the American Red Cross of New Mexico also have been working with Moreno and residents in the area.

“We trying to document as much as we can, from the height of the water, to damaged fences, did they have water, where did they go if they were displaced,” Moreno said. “That way, if there is any government body or agency that needs that information to provide more assistance, they can request the information and we’ll have it.”

At the same time, county and city officials are continuing their efforts to respond. According to a city agenda, Roswell city councilors are due to vote on a resolution during the group’s Thursday night meeting that would declare a disaster in the area due to the rainstorms, hail and flooding. County Manager Bill Williams previously said that the county is also working to prepare a disaster declaration that would provide funding for response and recovery and allow the state or other agencies to help local government entities.

Rain and hail storms occurred in some parts of Chaves County starting the night of Friday, May 28, with heavy rains continuing Saturday through Monday. As a result of the “100-year storm” that dropped anywhere from 4.75 inches to 5 inches during a 24-hour period around the Roswell area, as well as flowing water from the ungated Rocky Dam, a flood-control berm that is part of a larger flood-control project broke. That caused water to flow into southern portions of the city, especially south of Brasher Road and around the Roswell Air Center. Dick Smith, superintendent of the Chaves County Flood Commission, said that crews could begin work to repair the berm next week if no more rainfall occurs and the area dries up to allow equipment to operate.

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Dexter, Hagerman, Lake Arthur and the Orchard Park area near Midway also have experienced flooding and high water in some areas, resulting in closed roads and flooded properties.

“We are still in need of volunteers and bottled water,” said Moreno, who plans to continue his work through the weekend.

He said he has taken reports from about 30 residents and businesses with some type of damage. He also has received photos and social media messages that he has not been able to verify with property owners yet, including reports of dead livestock in the Orchard Park area.

Moreno, volunteers and Roswell residents are also working to fill and place sandbags around area homes. The city of Roswell is providing sand piles at two locations, East Alameda Street near a city Street Department office and at a vacant lot near the Roswell Air Center at Southeast Main Street and Hobson Street.

Moreno said that while the water is beginning to dissipate, the long-term effects are still being felt. He said he had measured an average of 7 inches of standing water outside of structures at properties in south Roswell.

One home had 20 inches of water inside and collapsed floors, Moreno said, with the family also having a 300-pound pig that needed to be rescued and taken to another family. Another family has had more than 30 goats and sheep die, he said, and does not have a way yet to discard the carcasses. The family also had to move its surviving animals to a relative’s home. He said he also met with two businesses in the area of the Air Center that have closed completely due to flooding inside their buildings.

Robert Barber, an area volunteer with the American Red Cross of New Mexico, said he has been in Chaves County since Wednesday assessing the Orchard Park area and the south Roswell area between Southeast Main Street and South Sunset Avenue.

He said the Red Cross has determined so far that five families will receive emergency funds due to the damage inside their homes. The number where people can call to ask for an assessment is 1-800-842-7349, but Barber stressed that financial assistance is only available if volunteers determine that major damage has occurred inside the residential living space.



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

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.