Columbus residents facing new challenges in storm cleanup efforts

Columbus residents facing new challenges in storm cleanup efforts
Sunday, July 28, 2013 - 4:39pm

Villagers are facing new challenges nearly a week after a powerful storm struck Columbus, New Mexico, and damaged almost 50 homes.

On July 23, a wet microburst hit the southeastern part of town bringing in heavy rains and up to 90 mile per hour winds that snapped electric poles and damaged 48 homes completely destroying seven.

"We are a resilient people," said Mayor Nicole Lawson of the morale around the border village.

Lawson herself had the roof off her home completely torn off.

"Sometimes I just stop and stare into space but I can't stop thinking about just how grateful I am that it's just a house," she said.

While the cleanup efforts continue, the American Red Cross has been providing village residents with as much help as possible.

"They need water and a little bit of light snacks and food," said Red Cross Volunteer Cori Marquez Barrio.

The have also been providing residents with cleaning supplies for those that suffered water damage and resources on where they can live.

The mayor said she considers herself lucky she can stay with her husband while the cleanup and rebuilding process continues.

Others are finding it difficult to find a place to live and have been staying with family members even across the border in Palomas.

With shelter being the primary concern for residents, those that are cleaning up their homes are finding it difficult to clear the debris.

The village is using three large containers that are filled and taken to the dump just outside of Deming twice a day.

Most of the mobile homes that were lost requiring several trips so debris sits for days.

"We don't have enough staff or equipment to get it out of town," Lawson said.

The wastewater treatment plant is also in dire need of repairs after the storm turned over half of the aerators that process dirty water.

Crews spent all day Saturday fishing them out of the water with cranes.

"The electrical wires are pretty much burned," said Public Works Director Robert Gomez.

The equipment is old and new parts are hard to find so crews will have to repair stands that keep them upright.

Gomez said even with the damaged aerators the sewer system has not been compromised.

The village will continue their damage assessment tomorrow and urge anybody who has been affected to file a report that way they can seek more assistance.

Village of Columbus City Hall
214 Broadway
(575) 532-2663

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