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Floods and evacuations likely to continue in Ruidoso

Floodwaters race past homes in Ruidoso on Sunday, June 30, 2024. Flash Floods have hit thevilage the last two days, and could continue throughout the week.
National Weather Service
Source New Mexico
Floodwaters race past homes in Ruidoso on Sunday, June 30, 2024. Flash Floods have hit thevilage the last two days, and could continue throughout the week.

Another round of flooding Wednesday struck the small southern New Mexico village of Ruidoso, after flooding forced the evacuation of more than 170 people, and 64 swiftwater rescues on Tuesday.

More floods are possible in the coming days.

The National Weather Service said the area has been experiencing rolling storms that continue to drop rain on the same area over and over.

Meteorologist Carter Gruelich said those same storms are expected to continue every day.

“Today, at least in the forecast, is potentially going to be like the worst of the days,” he said. “But the continuous thunderstorms and the risk of burn scar flash flooding is evident throughout much of the week.”

The recent South Fork and Salt fire burn scars are making it even worse than normal. Gruelich said rainfall totals of just a half inch to an inch per hour is more than enough to cause intense floods.

“That is really all that it takes, especially for these more sensitive burn scars to cause this flash flooding,” he said. “Specifically, since we had the flash flood emergency yesterday for the area, it's already a very vulnerable area.”

Mayor Lynn Crawford said the village is prepared to continue battling the waters in the coming days. If residents have their location on their cell phones turned on, they’ll receive alerts to go to higher ground if they’re in an area in danger of flooding.

Officials are also removing propane tanks, and shutting off damaged gas lines.

“You had propane discharging, and then, of course, natural gas just discharging, and the gas is heavier than air,” he said, “so it settles in the low lying areas and makes it dangerous.”

The floods started just one day after the village reopened its doors to tourists. Local businesses rely on income from this time of year to get through the slower months, but the floods have put all that on hold for people’s safety.

“We're very concerned,” he said. “Our economy's lifeblood – people's livelihoods, their home mortgages, feeding their kids, their families all depend on – is important. It's a very delicate balancing act.”

Crawford said they need to make sure residents and visitors are safe before fully reopening the village.

Support for this coverage comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. 

Daniel Montaño is a reporter with KUNM's Public Health, Poverty and Equity project. He is also an occasional host of Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Let's Talk New Mexico since 2021, is a born and bred Burqueño who first started with KUNM about two decades ago, as a production assistant while he was in high school. During the intervening years, he studied journalism at UNM, lived abroad, fell in and out of love, conquered here and there, failed here and there, and developed a taste for advocating for human rights.
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