SAN YSIDRO, N.M. (KRQE) — Floodwaters from the Jemez River continue to saturate the Highway 4 corridor. As warmer temperatures are melting the snowpack, everyone’s bracing for more.
“It’s a force of nature. It’s definitely the finger of God, if you want to call it, just kind of doing its thing here. It’s beautiful to behold but definitely ominous and something you want to respect for sure,” said Del Puckett, a resident of San Ysidro.
The Jemez River is still saturating nearby communities: flooding fields, running over the highway intermittently, and coming close to people’s homes.
“The river breached up there, and it had just come through the town and worked its way and just so happened to come right underneath my workshop. I was like, what are the odds of that?” Puckett said.
“We did have some levies give out along there in San Ysidro that’s causing that. The Bureau of Reclamation is actually on-site working to get those repairs in place and help divert some water [to] keep Highway 4 clear as best as we can,” said Sandoval County Fire and Rescue Chief Eric Masterson.
The U.S. Geological Survey showed the river’s height swelling over seven feet. Despite the damage already done by the river jumping its banks, officials warned, “I think we’re at that threshold right now to where if it gets to be much more, another half a foot, we have some serious problems,” Masterson explained.
“I was told that there is another 10 to 30 inches of snow, so if the temperatures rise again on Sunday, the volume of water will go up again, so we’re just going to have to play it by ear,” said Jemez District Ranger Dawn Cordova.
Cordova said they’re shutting down campsites and fishing access points up and down the river because of the danger. “The businesses are open, but we are in a state of emergency. This isn’t necessarily something where we want a lot of recreation to be occurring,” Masterson explained.
The Sandoval County Fire Chief said the Bureau of Reclamation is working on fixing the levies that gave out while the EPA is measuring river contaminants.
Masterson said emergency officials are offering sandbags for residents in the area at fire stations in Jemez Springs, San Ysidro, La Cueva, and Cañon.