The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Friday it will make immediately available $2 million in emergency relief funds to help the state cover the costs of repairing roads and bridges damaged by severe storms earlier this month.
The storms overflowed rivers, sparking massive flooding, forced evacuations and damaged roads. Officials say roads and bridges in counties and tribal areas in the state were washed out or severely damaged, including a section of I-40 about 30 miles west of Albuquerque, where a sinkhole formed.
In addition, Los Alamos National Laboratory on Friday reported millions of dollars in damages to environmental monitoring stations around the property due to heavy rain and flooding.
According to the federal DOT, repairs from the September storms in New Mexico are so far estimated to be at least $9 million. The number is expected to increase as officials continue to assess the damages.
The initial $2 million will be provided through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program. It will be used to reimburse the state for emergency work.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., praised the move by the department.
“Communities across our state are cleaning up from devastating floods, and many are facing expensive repairs to roads and bridges and other public infrastructure that is critically important in their daily lives,” Udall said in a statement.
A spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez said the governor’s office was pleased with the federal help, especially after witnessing the damage herself.
“The governor has traveled around the state, from Las Vegas to Mogollon to Cloudcroft, and saw firsthand the devastation these rains have caused,” Martinez spokesman Enrique C. Knell said
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