September 16, 2013 in Nation/World

Long-thirsty N.M. now struggling with flooding

Associated Press
 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Another round of rainfall moved across New Mexico on Sunday, renewing the threat of heavy runoff from already saturated soils and flooding in low areas as residents faced a major cleanup effort from damage left in the wake of days of relentless rain.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for much of central and northern New Mexico. In the northeastern corner of the state, where the chance for heavy rain was greatest, residents along the Gallinas River were warned that the waterway could swell again.

“As long as you get the right thunderstorm right over your area, I wouldn’t be surprised if more records are broken as far as one-day rainfall totals because we still have that abundant moisture in the area,” said Jason Frazier, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albuquerque.

For a state that has been in the grasp of an unprecedented drought, numerous records have fallen in the past week as floodwaters have broken through dams, inundating neighborhoods and leaving behind muddy swaths of debris.

Some areas received close to 10 inches of rain since the deluge started Tuesday. Parts of Albuquerque have seen more than 4 inches, marking the wettest September on record for the city.

The NWS was busy Sunday crunching numbers for the rest of the state, but he wouldn’t be surprised if more areas fared the same.

“A lot of locations have had more moisture for the month of September than they’ve had all this year or maybe even all of last year as well,” he said.

All the rain is helping New Mexico out of the drought, but the cost has been high. At least one person has been killed, and state officials estimate the overflowing of rivers and the runoff has caused millions of dollars in damage.

The massive flooding prompted Gov. Susana Martinez to issue a state of emergency Friday, opening up recovery funding for roads.

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