Officials declare Belen flooding a disaster

New Mexico News

Epic flooding in Belen Thursday night has left a major mess. Homes and yards were left submerged under water and pummeled by what seemed like a never-ending stream of mud and water.

The water was so powerful it also ripped apart dirt ditches.

Much of the water had receded, but it’s left mounds of dirt everywhere. The City of Belen officially declared the event a disaster.

Friday morning, the streets were covered with mud, all brought down by a break in the Highline Canal east of the interstate.

The torrential rains dropped almost two inches of rain in a very short amount of time.

Officials say the canal could not hold all of the water. It broke and caused streets, homes and yards to flood.

They also say about 1,000 homes were impacted and 60 homes were damaged when the mud and water entered their homes.

In recent years, the city has seen bad storms, but many say this rain was different. 

“This is not the first time this has happened but this is the first time it’s been this bad that they’ve had to close the road and come out with the bulldozers and they’ve been working all night,” said resident Constance Roth.

This is the third breach of the Highline Canal in less than eight months.

The canal has been a problem for decades and each time it has breached, it has caused major problems. 

If it breaks near town, homes are flooded. If it breaches farther south, farms are flooded. 

Many people including city officials are asking when something will be done about the canal, which is the responsibility of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.

At this time, officials are still trying to get a grasp of the cost to repair all of the damage. 

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