New Mexico is looking at, so far, an estimated $6.87 million worth of road and highway repairs from recent heavy rains and floods that battered the state in September, transportation officials say.
Other damage assessments have yet to be tallied, as local and federal officials look for funds to help kick off the repair work more quickly.
The state was slammed with two major storms from Sept. 13 to 24 which dropped more than 8 -in. in some regions of the state and has caused millions of dollars in damages, primarily to roadways and other infrastructure.
Flooding and damage occurred in 25 of New Mexico’s 33 counties. According to the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, only Lea, Roosevelt, Quay, Curry, Harding, Union, Hidalgo, and Luna counties were spared damages. Hardest hit were Catron, Chavez, DeBaca, Dona Ana, Eddy, Los Alamos, Mora, Sandoval, and San Miguel counties.
Damage to buildings and homes due to the flooding were reported in Rio Arriba, Doña Ana, McKinley, San Miguel, Los Alamos counties, according to the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been assisting state and county personnel in assessing the damage, yet according to both the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the New Mexico Department of Transportation, it will take weeks to determine the true extent of the damage and needed repairs.
Preliminary information from NMDOT, however, estimates the heavy rains and subsequent floods to have caused more than $6.87 million in damage to state highways.
Extensive roadway damage includes New Mexico highway 159 in Catron County. The roadway was washed out, and a complete reconstruction is needed, according to NMDOT. In San Juan county, a sinkhole emerged on U.S. highway 550. In all, there were more than 30 spots in the New Mexico highway system that experienced some level of damage.
The late September rains and flooding also delayed the repair of a sinkhole that had opened up on I-40 approximately 20 miles west of Albuquerque at To’hajiilee Sept. 13. The roadway continues to be reduced to one lane in both directions. Construction repairs were scheduled to be complete by Sept. 27 but due to the heavy rain, work continues.
Gov. Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency Sept. 13 and has released $750,000 in state funding to help mitigate costs. According to the Estevan Lujan, spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Gov. Martinez is still awaiting a federal declaration.