NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Recent heavy rains led to rushing water and flooding in the small, tight-knit community of Rio En Medio, just northeast of Tesuque. The river there – overflowing.
“Four inches normal depth turned into 20 feet in like an hour,” said John Kadlecek, a Rio En Medio resident and president of the local water company there. He said the community of about 150 has had five floods since late July. Meteorologists say the area has gotten 10-12 inches of rain in the last month, about four times the average for that time period.
“I watched my neighbors Ford F-150 hit the bridge, start bobbing up and down, and then go underneath the bridge,” said Kadlecek. “It’s mostly been people not being able to cross the river to their houses anymore because culverts are filled or gone. So, they can’t get across the river so that’s one of the biggest impacts.”
Kadlecek said the flooding is exacerbated by climate change and lack of work down on the Medio Fire burn scar from two years ago.
“There are people who remember floods from like 50 years ago but they weren’t like this,” he said. “Ever since that fire, when it rains, the water that comes down is black,”
Rio En Medio is its own village in Santa Fe County. With other, bigger flooding emergencies in the state, resources are stretched thin. They are getting some help from local entities but it’s really neighbors helping neighbors.
“We’ve been rebuilding gabions, getting heavy equipment to remove trash to rebuild riverbanks. Things like that,” said Kadlecek. He’s preparing for any more rain heading their way.
“Now, whenever there’s rain in the forecast or there’s dark clouds in the sky, I’ve got my eyes glued on radar,” he said. “I’ll be really glad when the rain’s over. And I certainly have never said that in New Mexico before.”
KRQE reached out to the City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County to learn more about the response but did not hear back. Kadlecek said there is an effort to get help from FEMA but that could take time.
Right now, the community is in need of volunteers to help fill sandbags and use heavy equipment to clean the area. The community has a GoFundMe to help residents there clean up and rebuild.