By Martín Salazar and Art Trujillo
Las Vegas Optic
It was sunny outside on Friday evening, and Michael Romero was painting when he heard it.
“I just heard a big roar and trees breaking,” the owner of Michael’s Precision Automotive at 514 S. Commerce St. said.
The next thing he knew a big wave of water was rushing down the Pecos Arroyo, washing away his barn, motorcycles and even cars. Many of the vehicles that weren’t swept away were left immersed in water. Customers’ cars got flooded, and his house behind the shop, where he resides with his wife and five kids, was also flooded.
Worse yet, Romero doesn’t have flood insurance, so now he’s left trying to figure out how he’s going to recover from the damage and hoping for outside help.
“We’re in a drought; who thinks about flood insurance?” he asked.
Also flooded was the Best Western Montezuma Inn & Suites at 2020 N. Grand Ave., although employees, the owners and even guests managed to clean up the mess and get things back to normal quickly.
“Well, it was an enormous surprise only because at the time we’d only had a little bit of rain,” said Anne Bradford, who manages the Best Western. “The first I heard about it was in a phone call from my work. I thought it was a leak, but by the time I got there, the water was up to two or three feet.”
Dennis English, who heads the San Miguel County and City of Las Vegas Office of Emergency Management estimates that just under an inch of rain fell north of town over about a one hour period on Friday evening. That downpour sent floodwaters raging down to the Storrie Lake area and through the Pecos arroyo, flooding some areas of the city.
English said there were no injuries reported, and city of Las Vegas first responders handled most of the calls about the flooding.
“Sometimes you just have to ride Mother Nature out,” he said.
City Manager Timothy Dodge said the flood waters swept through the Pecos Arroyo, which starts off near Storrie Lake, passes through the Harris Pond Area and runs below KFUN Hill.
Dodge said he and other city officials were out surveying the damage Friday afternoon, while city Public Works Director Carlos Ortiz was out inspecting bridges for any damage.
Romero posted photos of the flooding on his Facebook page. One photo shows several vehicles submerged in water.
“It was crazy,” he said, adding that once a car gets flooded, it’s almost totaled because the electronics get fried and water gets into the engine.
He said he’s hoping that there will be some kind of state or federal aid to help him cover the damage.
He and his family spent Saturday trying to salvage their house. Romero said he rented vacuums to suck out the water and had fans going.
The Best Western, meanwhile, was a little luckier.
“Because all our entrances are tiled, none of our carpets were damaged,” Bradford said. “People, even some guests, helped out. One of our guests helped mop up. We’re still dealing with parking lot problems. As far as the interior of the property is concerned, we escaped any major damage.
“I’ve mopped floors before, but never to the extent that I did this time.”
Bradford said the staff turned out, as did the owners.
“There was a point where we couldn’t check anybody in, nor could we let anybody out. It took two to two-and-a-half hours for the water to recede.”
Bradford added that the flood waters swept away the business’s recycling bin.
“The breakfast conversation at the model was all about the flash flood,” she said.
This monsoon season has resulted in flooding throughout the state.
On Thursday afternoon, a flash flood hit the Watrous-Valmora area, covering roads with water and making them impassible.