It goes without saying that we all wish the flood-waters that raged through Las Vegas and San Miguel County Friday and throughout the weekend could have instead been channeled into Storrie Lake. The massive amounts of water coming down Gallinas Canyon surely would have gone a long way toward replenishing the lake, which in recent years has looked more like a pond due to the extreme drought.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be.
The earthen canal that carries water to Storrie ruptured early Friday morning, resulting in the water spilling out onto a field and then back into the already swollen Gallinas River.
There were rumors galore that the Storrie Project Water Users Association had closed the flood gates, and that that’s why no water was coming down the canal and into Storrie Lake. Those rumors are not true. The gates were open, but the canal wasn’t able to handle the pressure.
Whether that was due to poor maintenance on the canal or simply a matter of an earthen canal’s not being able to handle the amount of pressure from the record rainfall is an open question.
What we do know is that from the time the breach was discovered, a Herculean effort has been under way by the Storrie Project Water Users Association, which owns the canal; Oren Mathews, the contractor hired within hours to go to work on fixing the canal; state Department of Transportation workers, who have been hauling in hundreds of jersey barriers for the repair, San Miguel County road workers, federal employees and many other people and organizations.
Crews have been at the site day and night cutting down trees and other vegetation, hauling in material to bridge the wall and doing everything possible to bring the canal back on line as quickly as possible. There efforts have at times had to be suspended because of heavy rainfall or because the material they’re working with was too wet, but they have persevered, working past midnight and through the weekend.
On behalf of the community, we thank every one of those workers for their tireless efforts. But they weren’t the only ones who shined during this flooding crisis.
Local police, firefighters and other emergency responders rolled up their sleeves and went to work evacuating people from flooding homes, blocking off dangerous roads and walking trails and standing guard over endangered bridges. City, county and state workers were there alongside them, manning roadblocks and filling up sandbags, and doing other things.
And the emergency management team did an excellent job of managing the crisis.
The repairs have been completed, and our hats are off to all of you.