Doña Ana County: No money to cover major flood control projects in areas like La Union


POSTED: Friday, August 15, 2014 - 10:34pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 1:07pm

Trash, dirt, and sediment now sit where a river runs through Rosa Guerrero's front yard in La Union, New Mexico earlier this week.

Residents said there seems to be no end in sight to the clean-up after the heavy rains flooded their community damaging property and infrastructure.

Guerrero said she finally had to build a dam to keep the water out.

"I used to fight against the water but now I go with the water so I'm bringing the water through my home so it doesn't take it," said Guerrero. "They need to control the water."

Guerrero is among a group of residents in La Union frustrated with Doña Ana County for not finding a permanent solution to their flooding problems every year during the monsoon.

"I am tired and I am scared that my house is going to go down the street," Guerrero said.

"It's pretty frustrating because you got to be out here every time it rains. You got to be getting bags to cover up the doors and stop the rain and the water," said Richard Vielma.

But county officials said they're well aware of the problem - the massive holes along the roads, broken and fractured pavement in the streets and parts of it simply caved in.

"We can identify more than $6 million in projects just in and around La Union by itself," said Jess Williams, the Doña Ana County Director of Public Information/Special Projects.

Officials said the county doesn't have that money to spend at the moment on major flood control projects.

"It's going to be an issue for areas throughout this county because of the explosive growth over the last 2 and a half decades," said Williams.

He said nearby dams are getting too old to contain the water and aren't meant to protect residential areas - they were built for the agricultural lands.

Williams said the county does its best to make sure roads are passable when it rains but can't make any repairs until it dries up.

"We'll continue to push for funding to look at large scale flood prevention projects throughout the county," he said.

But in the meantime, residents like Guerrero are dreading the thought of more floods.

"You're on your own. Out here, you're on your own," she said.

Williams said Doña Ana County as a whole needs some $6 billion in funding for flood control projects.

He said they'll ask the state for money in January and hope they can start their projects soon after. 

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