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County considers second source of recent flood waters

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Some Chaves County residents and a Chaves County commissioner believe that the flood waters that had affected people in the Orchard Park area in past weeks were not the result of a broken flood-control levee, but instead come from a lake or draw near Brown Road.

Brothers Tommy and Mike Gomez live just north of West Orchard Park Road, which is south of the Roswell Air Center and to the west of U.S. 285.

Michael Gomez said the source of the flood waters in their area in recent months comes from the Juan Lake area, which is on private property, and he would like the Chaves County Flood Commission to look into the issue to prevent future damage to roads and property.

“The force of the flood relocated large water tanks, moved a trailer house, laid metal pipe fences down, cause havoc on residents and livestock,” Gomez wrote in an email. “All of this water did not come from a single breach of a levee.”

He said the problem with large water runoffs during storms actually has been experienced by area residents for at least five years, with one recurring problem being that he and other residents have to spend time and provide gravel to repair Ambush Road, a non-maintained county road that leads to their homes.

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After the recent flooding that occurred due to storms in late May and early July — which also resulted in two separate breaches of a county-controlled flood-control berm west of Roswell — Gomez said that he and his brother, as well as a neighbor, tracked the path of the water and determined that the water came from the lake area.

Chaves County Commissioner T. Calder Ezzell Jr. agrees with Gomez’s conclusion, saying that he has visited the Gomez property and the Orchard Park area about four times since the recent floods.

“(Chaves County) Flood Control is going to look into it to see if anything can be done about it,” Ezzell said, but he added that occasional flooding could be the unfortunate but unavoidable circumstances that follow 100-year storms.

The May 28-30 rains were considered a 100-year storm because about 5 inches fell in the area within 24 hours. The county also saw large amounts of rain from July 1 to July 3, which caused a second round of flooding for some residents.

Ezzell said that the Juan Lake area is also known as the Zubi Draw. He said the draw has a pipeline intended to control overflow water, but Ezzell said that appears to have become overrun with water and allowed water to flow north.

He added that he agrees that the water that flooded the Orchard Park area came from the draw area, not from the breached flood-control berm located about 1.25 miles west of Roswell. Water from the levee is what flooded south Roswell near the Roswell Air Center, according to city and Chaves County Flood Control officials.

Ezzell said that the matter could be discussed at the upcoming Chaves County Board of Commissioners meeting. That is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday at the Chaves County Administrative Center, 1 St. Mary’s Place.

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