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BREAKING: Major flooding forcing evacuations

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By The Staff

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.: The County of Mora has declared a state of emergency due to flooding in the area.

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UPDATE 1:47 p.m.: Part of the canal that carries flood waters to Storrie Lake has ruptured, which is contributing to the flooding situation in the area, San Miguel County Commissioner Nicolas Leger has confirmed to the Optic.
Leger said that the flooding likely would have still happened even if the canal hadn't ruptured because the canal  isn't designed to take the amount of water that we're seeing. But he said water in the canal is finding its way back into the Gallinas River.
"They're looking at the possibility of trying to fix that breach so that we can divert some of this water, get it out of the river, into the canal and then into the lake," Leger said.
"The canal isn't designed to carry the extreme amount of water that the river is carrying. There's no way," Leger said. "We'd still have flooding."
He said the hope is that if the canal is fixed, it will alleviate some of the flow down the river, and by extension, some of the flooding.

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UPDATE 1:21 p.m.: The New Mexico Highlands University Child Care Develop Center was evacuated earlier today due to high and rising waters in the nearby Gallinas. Staff and children were moved to the Victoria de Sanchez Teacher Education Center, and parents were asked to pick up their kids.

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UPDATE 1:15 p.m.: The West Las Vegas High football game scheduled for tonight has been moved to Perkins Stadium at New Mexico Highlands University. Las Vegas Youth Soccer League matches set for Saturday morning have been canceled. Sunday's matches at the United World College in Montezuma are tentatively on as scheduled, although that may change.

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UPDATE 1:05 p.m. - Firefighters and police have rescued several people from houses near Mills Avenue, Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Kiki Arellano confirmed.
The exact number of people who were rescued is unclear, but a shelter is being opened at Michael Marr Gymnasium off Grand Avenue.
Anyone needing a place to stay is being asked to go there.
A number of people have taken to the streets to see the flooding for themselves.
Arellano is discouraging people from getting near bridges or the banks of the Gallinas, saying that it's just too dangerous.
Officials have already closed down the bridge on Bridge Street and Independence Street Bridge.
The Grand Avenue Bridge remains open. There has been discussion of closing down the bridge on Mills, but it currently remains open.

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UPDATE 12:55 p.m. - The city of Las Vegas has been inundated with 3 to 5 inches of rain in the last four days with higher elevations getting 5 to 7 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.
Meterologist Brian Guyer said the four-day total two miles northwest of Las Vegas was 4.39 inches, while the four-day total three miles southeast of Las Vegas was 4.56 inches.
And the flooding could get worse before things improve, as more rain is expected.
"The rain is going to continue through tomorrow," Guyer said, adding that there could be an additional 1-to-2 inches of rain.

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UPDATE 12:38 p.m - City Utilities Director Ken Garcia said Friday that Peterson Dam has been inspected, and it remains stable.
Engineers have previously said that the dam could fail during a major flood event because it could overtop and the stormwaters could erode its base.
But Garcia said all of the city's water infrastructure has been inspected and aside from a minor issue with the diversion structure pedestrian bridge, it all appears to be fine.
Garcia added that the city is diverting as much water as possible through its Storrie Lake pipeline.
"We're diverting as must as we can to relieve pressure from the river," he said.
He added that the Utilities Office on 12th Street remains open despite flooding in the parking lot at the site.

City workers were scrambling this morning to move that equipment to other sites.

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Update 12 p.m. — Both West Las Vegas Middle School and West Las Vegas High School will be closing at 12:15 p.m. today due to the flooding in the area, the San Miguel County and City of Las Vegas Office of Emergency Management just announced.

Parents are advised to use South Pacific to pick up their children. School officials are asking parents to be patient.

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UPDATE 11:23 a.m. - Memorial Middle School dismissing at 11:20 a.m. today. Parents are asked to pick-up students at the lower parking lot in front of the school. Students in the district who ride a bus will be dismissed at 11:20 a.m. as well, buses will be transporting students home at 11:20 a.m.

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UPDATE 10:37 a.m. - Las Vegas City Schools says Memorial Middle School will remain open and students are safe.

Here's the text message they sent out, "Attention Parents: Staff and students at Memorial Middle School are safe.  School will remain in session until further notice. The City of Las Vegas has closed Cinder Road and parent pickup will be at the lower parking lot of the school. Once again, all Students and Staff members at Memorial Middle School are safe.  The Varsity football game versus Santa Rosa scheduled for tonight will resume as scheduled. We will notify you of any changes as soon as information becomes available. Thank you!"

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The relentless rainstorms that have been pounding Las Vegas over the past few days have resulted in major flooding in the area, prompting local officials to activate the Emergency Operations Center.

Police and other first responders have shut down several roads and are evacuating portions of the city, including West Las Vegas High School. Several bridges are now off limits as water in the Gallinas River continues to rise, and homes are being flooded.

Among the road closures announced by the Office of Emergency Management are:

• NM 65, northwest of Las Vegas, going to Gallinas Canyon, is closed from mile marker 12-13. There are no detours in the area.

• NM 283, west of Las Vegas going to Mineral Hill at mile marker 12 is closed. There are no detours in this area.

• NM 419 east of Las Vegas at mile marker 0-47 is closed.

• Cinder Road A11D

• El Llano Road, A12A

• Cunningham, A12C

• El Camino, A12C

• River Crossing by World College, A12B

• Cabo Lucero Area A18

• Abeytas, A25C

• San Geronimo/Camp Blue Haven Area

We will continue to post updates throughout the day.