ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Northwest Albuquerque homeowners find themselves in a muddy bind after threats from the feds they'll be prosecuted if they disturb a national monument while protecting their homes from floodwaters.
Now a push to get congress involved.
The flooding started over the weekend during the historic monsoon surge that spread heavy rain and damaging floods across the state for more than a week.
"It was all mud. Just pure mud," homeowner Jerry Graver said.
Residents living just below Petroglyph National Monument were suddenly left with no other choice but to try to protect their homes from the runoff cascading from monument property.
Some dug ditches, which, according to the National Park Service, crossed the line by digging on monument property.
"We have warned that any further type of activity of this nature will be prosecuted," said Dr. Joseph Sanchez, the monument's superintendent.
Sanchez says is understandable for people to try to protect their homes, but the bottom line is it is illegal to disturb federal property that's supposed to be preserved and protected.
Graver says he got the warning.
"If I tried to block the rain or water off, they said they were going to prosecute me," he told KRQE news 13.
Albuquerque City Councilor Ken Sanchez said local and federal officials have to find a way to help the homeowners.
"I was shocked, and that's why I called the congressional delegation," he said.
So far they've worked together to arrange for city trucks to haul away the sediment left behind. But the reality is it's probably not enough.
"We shouldn't put barriers in place especially when someone's home is in danger, and possibly their life is in danger," the councilor said.
The hope is to get federal funding to improve drainage flow on the Petroglyph National Monument.
"This is why we seek a long-term solution so that in the future this will be precluded from happening," Superintendent Sanchez said.
Councilor Sanchez is anxious to get things done.
"We need to protect the national monument. It's a treasure for Albuquerque," Sanchez said. "And at the same time these residents need to protect their property and protect their life.
"This could have been a lot worse than it was."
Petroglyph officials say homeowners can use sandbags on federal land if necessary, but they cannot dig ditches.
Monument land also suffered significant damage because of the recent rains.
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