New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats Welcome President’s Disaster Declaration for September Floods

Lawmakers had urged ‘quick action’ to help state and
Santa Clara Pueblo recover from widespread storm damage.

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, Congressman Ben Ray Luján and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that President Obama has declared a major disaster for the state of New Mexico and Santa Clara Pueblo for the severe storms and flooding from September 9-22.

The declaration means the president has ordered federal aid to help state and local recovery efforts. The assistance will be available on a cost-sharing basis for damage to public infrastructure in Catron, Chaves, Cibola, Colfax, Eddy, Guadalupe, Los Alamos, McKinley, Mora, Sandoval, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Sierra, Socorro, and Torrance counties. Federal funding will also be made available on a cost-sharing basis to assist with hazard mitigation statewide. A similar declaration was made for Santa Clara Pueblo, which made its own request for public assistance.

New Mexico’s lawmakers on Oct. 22 jointly urged the president to respond quickly to separate requests for disaster assistance for the state of New Mexico and Santa Clara Pueblo. Historic, record-breaking rain across New Mexico during the September storms caused catastrophic flooding and damage in about two-thirds of the state.

“I want to thank the president for responding to our requests on behalf of the state and Santa Clara Pueblo,” said Senator Udall, who toured storm damage in hard-hit Catron County last week. “This assistance is badly needed in communities that sustained severe damage to roads, bridges, dams and other structures. I saw the damage firsthand, and I appreciate this quick action to assist the state and Santa Clara Pueblo. I’m going to keep working to ensure the federal government fulfills its obligations to help with restoration in New Mexico’s communities.”

“I am pleased that President Obama has taken action and quickly responded to our requests for federal disaster assistance for the state and Santa Clara Pueblo,” Senator Heinrich said. “Last month’s severe storms and devastating floods caused community evacuations, landslides, and damaged critical infrastructure around the state. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the president to ensure that every community across New Mexico affected by severe flooding receives the assistance they need to rebuild and recover.”

“I am pleased the President acted to make a disaster declaration for the State of New Mexico and Santa Clara Pueblo. This important declaration will make New Mexico and Santa Clara Pueblo eligible for vital funds to assist with critical repairs in the wake of severe storms and flooding that impacted communities across our state, as well as efforts to prepare for future emergencies,” Congressman Luján said.

“This declaration will provide federal resources to supplement the efforts of those on the ground who have been working day and night to recover and rebuild following September’s devastating storms,” Congresswoman Lujan Grisham said. “I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues in New Mexico’s congressional delegation to help secure this important aid.”

Across the state, flooding and landslides washed out roads and bridges, and several communities in Catron, Eddy and Sierra counties were completely isolated. Water control facilities in numerous counties were damaged, including many historic acequias, as well as drinking water systems in McKinley and Cibola counties. Significant damage also occurred on federal properties, among them the Los Alamos National Lab site and the Catwalk Trail in the Gila National Forest, which was washed out.

The Santa Clara Pueblo, which is downstream of land damaged in the 2011 Las Conchas Fire, has experienced severe flooding caused by runoff over the burn scar on multiple occasions in the years following the fire. Rains in July and again September 13-16 exacerbated the damage. The Pueblo lost water control facilities in the Santa Clara Canyon, and roads, bridges and homes were damaged.