ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) - Heavy rains pushed the Rio Chama out of its banks Wednesday afternoon sending water into homes and swamping cars northeast of Española.
Rio Arriba County Emergency Manager Mateo DeVargas said about six homes are reported to be half-submerged with numerous vehicles under water.
The flooding started slowly around noon on Wednesday in the small community of Chili. By 3 p.m., the waters came in hard and fast.
"Three o' clock is when it really started to get heavy and within 45 minutes, these homes were about 5 feet under water," said Rio Arriba spokesperson Erika Martinez.
Many of the families were at work and school when the floodwaters came in. County officials say those who weren't managed to get out safely.
"There were a lot of family members and friends of the people whose homes were affected trying to fill up sandbags and trying to help out as much as possible," Martinez said.
In the small community, everyone knows someone who's been touched by this flood. One emergency responder had to respond to the emergency at his own house.
"One of our deputy's homes was one of the homes that was affected," Martinez said. "For the families here, there's pretty high emotions. They're pretty distraught."
Residents being forced out by the flooding are being offered shelter by the American Red Cross at the Beatrice Martinez Senior Center, 735 Vietnam Veterans Road, in Española.
On Thursday, crews will be mopping up and assessing the damage.
Aerial video from Sky News 13 over the Medanales area showed rescuers in a raft plucking three men from a marooned front-end loader, volunteers filling sandbags, and a doublewide mobile home with a high-water mark at the base of its windows.
A flash flood warning was issued until 8:30 p.m. and has expired. According to the National Weather Service, light rain was expected to fall in the area through 9:30 p.m. with minor flooding continuing, but the threat of flash floods is over for now.
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