City pegs its flood damage at $2.2M

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By Martin Salazar

The city of Las Vegas is estimating that the Friday the 13th flooding and associated rain storms caused more than $2.2 million in damage to its infrastructure.

The City Council voted unanimously late last week to approve a disaster declaration. The San Miguel County Commission has also declared a disaster, and county staff are estimating the damage to county infrastructure at $6-to-$7 million.

Both city and county officials are hoping that President Obama will declare the flooding that took place throughout New Mexico as a national disaster.

If that happens, FEMA would pick up the tab for 75 percent of the repairs of public infrastructure, with the state paying for 12.5 percent and local communities being responsible for the remaining 12.5 percent. If it remains only a state disaster, the state would be responsible for paying 75 percent of the damage, with local communities picking up the remaining 25 percent.

Because of the possibility that the flooding could be declared a national disaster, city and county officials have had to move quickly to develop a damage estimate for FEMA. Those estimates will be refined over the coming weeks.

Among the city infrastructure sustaining the most damage were the Gallinas River diversion structure,  estimated to have received more than $392,000 in damage, and the Gallinas River raw water sedimentation pond, which received an estimated $380,000 in damage.

Among the other damage:

• Gallinas River water pipe bridge structure, $87,000

• Peterson Reservoir access road and pumpback station: $150,500

• Valencia Street Bridge and pipeline crossing: $39,400

• Wastewater treatment plant access road and disk filter motors: $78,000

• Gallinas River skating pond: $131,800

• Dahlia Street: $49,060

• Valencia Street: $41,658

• Gallinas Riverwalk: $24,638

• West National: $73,266

• Romero Street: $32,310

• West Valencia Street: $32,310

• Kavanaugh Street: $148,694

• Legion Drive CBC flood damage repair: $27,339

• Citywide potholes: $47,007

• National Avenue Bridge: $167,181

• Mills Avenue Bridge: $133,701

The city also estimates that it spent $29,000 in wages responding to the disaster and another $16,654 in equipment costs.

City Utilities Director Ken Garcia has said that between Sept. 9 and Sept. 16, the precipitation measuring station at Wesner Springs measured 9.3” of rainfall. Put another way, Garcia said, in five days, this area received a quarter of the rains it normally gets in an entire year.

The amount of water in the Gallinas was too much for the canal that carries floodwaters to Storrie Lake to handle. The canal ruptured the morning of Sept. 13, causing water to spill out into a field and then back into the Gallinas River. That, in turn, resulted in flooding throughout the Gallinas River corridor.

The canal was fixed three days later and is once again carrying water to Storrie Lake.

Both city and county officials are praising the efforts of the Las Vegas/San Miguel Emergency Operations Center and all of the city and county staff who pitched in to help with the flooding.