Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Area relief organizations work with residents; disaster declarations prepared
As overflow waters from a dam west of Roswell continue to flow, area disaster relief agencies and local government officials are working to respond to residents’ needs in the wake of the Memorial Day storms that led to flooding in parts of Roswell and the county.
A volunteer with the American Red Cross of New Mexico began doing damage assessments in the Orchard Park and south Roswell areas starting Wednesday, said area volunteer Robert Barber.
“We were able to provide support for five families that had enough damage they were able to qualify,” he said, explaining that meant financial assistance. “None of them had to relocate, but if they had to, they had a little additional money to relocate if they wanted to.”
He said most of the five had flood damage inside their homes, with one also having a tree that fell through their home and another with water damage to electrical units.
Barber said he will do more assessments if people have severe damage, but he stressed that financial assistance is available only to cover flood- or storm-related damage to the inside of residential units, not detached structures or buildings that are not dwelling units. The agency also does not assist with cleanups. A request for an assessment can be made by calling 1-800-842-7349.
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While water had receded significantly by Saturday morning, some standing water was still visible in people’s yards and in city streets in Roswell south of the Roswell Relief Route and between Southeast Main Street and South Sunset Avenue.
According to Barber and Enrique Moreno of Roswell Community Disaster Relief Services, that area appears to have been the hardest hit in Roswell. The Orchard Park area near Midway also had reported severe flooding before Wednesday, but Barber said the water appears to have receded a great deal already.
Moreno said that he began his response efforts on May 30, working to compile information from residents about the damage at their properties and providing help. That help, he said, has included cleaning up properties, pumping water out of flooded structures, pulling vehicles from mud or flooded areas, filling and placing sandbags, providing bottled water to people whose septic tanks and water wells flooded, and even rescuing and relocating a pig.
Not all animals in the area fared as well, though, he said, saying that he was contacted by a family that lost 30 goats and sheep and had to relocate their other animals.
He said he intended to keep working in the south Roswell area through the weekend and planned to go to Orchard Park by early this week.
He said the information he is collecting will be made available to local governments or other agencies for response efforts.
“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.”
Both Barber and Moreno said that more volunteers are still needed, and Moreno added that his organization can use donations of bottled water.
Barber also said that American Cross is working with Eddy, Lincoln and Chaves emergency management officials in case of further storms or flooding.
“We are prepared if the situation gets worse,” he said. “The probability is pretty low right now, but we are prepared.”
Chaves County has already submitted its disaster declaration to the state, according to County Manager Bill Williams and Chaves County Commissioner Will Cavin, also chair of the Board of Commissioners. Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh said that he has not signed one, but he did place a resolution for a disaster declaration on the agenda for city councilors to consider at their Thursday night meeting.
Williams and Cavin said that they do not yet have an estimate of the current damage, but Williams said the amount is certainly above the $250,000 minimum required for a disaster declaration in New Mexico.
The county also announced that it has placed large, open dumpsters at seven locations so that people can dispose of debris as they clean up properties. The dumpsters can be found at South Main and Hobson Road; the Midway Fire Department on Honolulu Road; the Chaves County Road Department on 1505 E. Brasher Road; the corner of Ambush Road and West Orchard Park Road; the Midway transfer station; the Railroad Lane transfer station; and Miller Road.
Kintigh, Williams and other county and city officials toured the broken berm and Twin Rivers Dam area on Friday along with representatives from the New Mexico Homeland Security Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Twin Rivers Dam area’s two dams, about 12 miles from Roswell, are managed by the Corps of Engineers. The southern dam, Rocky Dam, has no gate to stop large amounts of water from flowing into the Rocky Arroyo and Hondo River, according to local officials.
The water from that dam overflow — as well rain from last week’s “100-year” storm that dropped anywhere from 4.75 inches to 5 inches in the area during a 24-hour period — caused the breach of the flood-control berm, or levee, that is about 1.25 miles west of Roswell. The berm was breached in at least two places, which caused the flooding in the south part of Roswell.
The officials reported that water from Rocky Dam could be expected to flow for up to a week. Dick Smith, superintendent of the Chaves County Flood Commission, said in earlier interviews that he is hoping to begin repairs on the berm by this coming week, if weather conditions allow.
“We await corrective action,” said Kintigh, indicating that he thinks work is needed not only to shore up the berm but to rework trenches so that water flows into the Hondo River channel rather than toward Roswell.
Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at email@example.com.