Bush Declares Disaster for Two New Mexico Counties

August 18, 2008

President Bush has declared a disaster in two southern New Mexico counties due to severe flooding that killed one man, destroyed homes, washed out bridges and prompted hundreds of rescues last month.

Gov. Bill Richardson said he learned of the president’s declaration on Aug. 14, 2008.

“This assistance is critical to help the affected communities in Lincoln and Otero counties continue cleaning up and rebuilding after these devastating floods,” the governor said in a statement. “I am grateful for this declaration.”

However, the governor noted that the administration did not approve his request for individual assistance. Richardson has directed the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to review the decision and explore other options for getting additional assistance.

The flooding, caused by the remnants of Hurricane Dolly, killed one man, damaged about 200 homes in the Ruidoso area and destroyed bridges and roadways when the Rio Ruidoso jumped its banks at the end of July.

Soon after the flooding, Richardson declared Lincoln and Otero counties disaster areas, freeing up $750,000 in emergency state funding.

With Bush’s declaration, federal assistance will be available to both counties to cover the costs of emergency work and repairs or replacement of damaged public facilities and infrastructure.

Richardson also has proposed a $3.6 million emergency relief package to help the Ruidoso area recover from the flooding. The package would have to be approved by state legislators meeting in a special session that starts Friday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has said the flood cost $3.9 million, not including the damage done to private property. Ruidoso officials have said the price tag could end up being at least 50 percent higher.

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