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Flood Commission completes initial repairs to berm

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The “quick fix” to repair a flood-control berm west of Roswell so that water no longer flowed into the city was completed Tuesday, according to information from the New Mexico State Land Office and the Chaves County Flood Commission.

“Flood Commission staff were able to patch the area quickly, and what we have in place will turn the water for now,” Chaves County Flood Commission Superintendent Richard Smith said. “The area is in need of permanent repairs, and we are working with the state to make sure we get that done as quickly as possible.”

According to a news release issued by the State Land Office, the agency granted an emergency right-of-entry permit to the commission on Monday, allowing it to make repairs to the levee located on state trust land.

The breach, which occurred in the aftermath of a “100-year” rainstorm in the area in late May, had caused flooding into streets, impacting homes, businesses, livestock and properties in Roswell and in the Orchard Park area south of Roswell.

The right of entry allowed the Flood Commission to access the land to make repairs, which began Monday and concluded Tuesday morning. Repairs had previously been impossible due to safety concerns caused by the severity of the flooding.

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Access to state trust land through right of entry typically requires permits and fees. Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard worked with Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Secretary Bianca Ortiz-Wertheim to expedite the permit process and waive associated fees.

“In cases of emergencies like the flooding that took place in Roswell, the State Land Office will always act quickly and accordingly to keep New Mexicans safe,” Commissioner Garcia Richard said. “We are grateful to the governor and the secretary for working to make funds available to the community, and we commend the Chaves County Flood Commission for getting in to patch the levee as soon as it was safe for them to do so.”

In response to the severe flooding, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed executive orders declaring states of emergency for both the city of Roswell and Chaves County, where the damaged levee is located. Together, these orders provide $1.5 million to assist local governments with recovery efforts.

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