New Mexico Governor Proposes $3.6 M Flood Recovery

August 11, 2008

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is proposing $3.6 million in state aid to help the Ruidoso area recover from massive flooding in July.

Richardson announced the proposed emergency relief package during a trip to Ruidoso and the Ruidoso Downs horse track.

The emergency funding, which would have to be approved by legislators meeting in a special session in August, would be used to rebuild 26 road crossings and 12 bridges damaged by the flood that swept through the mountain resort community July 27.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has said the flood cost $3.9 million, not including the damage done to private property.

But Ruidoso deputy village manager Bill Morris said the price tag could end up being at least 50 percent higher. He says at least eight bridges will have to be replaced.

The flood, caused by the remnants of Hurricane Dolly, killed one man, damaged about 200 homes and destroyed bridges and roadways when the Rio Ruidoso jumped its banks.

Richardson has declared Lincoln and Otero counties disaster areas. That move made emergency state funding of up to $750,000 available.

But the governor thinks the state should do more.

“These roads and bridges are vital to this community and must be repaired or rebuilt as quickly as possible,” Richardson said in a statement. “I’m not going to wait for the federal government to act. We already have a special session scheduled. We have the money to help, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The special session is scheduled to begin August 8, 2008.

Senate Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, said he thinks the cost of the flood damage is likely to be closer to $8 million, but said Richardson’s proposal would cover basic infrastructure repairs.

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