New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has signed an Executive Order declaring an emergency across the state as reservoirs, rivers, and streams fill with the highest spring runoff levels in nearly three decades.
“We’re taking action now to save precious time if and when the potential flooding puts lives and property at risk,” said the Governor. “The wet winter has helped mitigate the drought conditions in New Mexico, but now poses a threat to low-lying communities and agricultural land across the state.”
The Governor’s action makes $750,000 in state emergency funding available to provide resources to monitor water flow, levees, dams, or other flood control structures, and prepare vulnerable areas for the possibility of flooding.
Above average snowpack in the mountains throughout New Mexico, and above average rainfall in the late winter and early spring have increased the risk of flooding statewide. Some flooding is already occurring in the north. The Costilla area has been engaged in sporadic flood fighting for the past few weeks, and more problems are expected as the runoff increases.
Information from the Corp of Engineers and the Interstate Stream Commission is that the Rio Grande through Albuquerque could flow at a rate of 7,000 cubic feet per second; a level not seen since the late 1970’s.
Under the order, the State Emergency Operations Center will be activated to Level 3, a low impact monitoring level, where assigned state emergency management and response personnel will coordinate efforts with cities, counties, tribes and pueblos throughout the State as well as other State and Federal agencies to ensure preparation for any unexpected events.
If there should be any flooding, the response system is prepared and ready. It will also allow for emergency work and the purchase and pre-positioning of sandbags and material to assist responders in any needed flood mitigation and response.
“This is one case where we can anticipate a potential emergency before it happens, and we can take steps now to lessen the impact to the community should a flood develop,” said John Denko, New Mexico secretary of Public Safety.
The Office of Emergency Management recommends that residents living near rivers, streams or low-lying flood plains take precautions now. These include but are not limited to family planning for evacuation and communication.
Families should plan for what they would need for a short term or even an extended time away from home, essentials like medications and insurance papers. They should also do what they can to protect their property from high water.
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