Crews shift arroyo rescue to recovery mission after heavy rainfall

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Three people are still missing following a flash flood earlier Tuesday evening. What started as a rescue by Albuquerque Fire Rescue is now a recovery mission. They are expected to begin their search Wednesday morning.

Around 4 p.m. Tuesday, a fast-moving but strong storm sent water rushing down Albuquerque arroyos. Not long after, three victims were reported to be in the water going down Embudo Arroyo near Constitution and I-40.

Several dozen AFR crew members gathered downstream, hoping to put the people out of the water near Menaul but they were unsuccessful. “The amount of water that was in the flood channel this afternoon could quite possibly be some of the deepest, fastest-moving water that I’ve seen,” said Lt. Tom Ruiz of AFR.

At one point, Bernalillo County Fire Department believed a third person may have been able to get themselves out of the arroyo but that cannot be confirmed at this time. AFR spent hours searching with few boats trying to stir up the water in the collection pond near Roy and 4th Street for the victims. BCFD says two victims were spotted face down but there hasn’t been any confirmation of death.

The Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority says 100-square miles drains to the channel and on Tuesday evening water in the area was around four feet deep but at the height of the storm, it was close to 12 feet. “That is the highest I have seen this year. We see eight to 12 feet pretty commonly throughout the summer. Massive amount of water….that speeds down the channels carrying, unfortunately in this case, people,” said Nolan Bennett, AMAFCA field engineer.

They say water levels dropped significantly overnight which will help with visibility. AMAFCA says they expect their clean-up efforts to last for the next two weeks clearing out all the trash that was pushed to the retention pond.

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