Rain leads to flash flooding, canal breach in Belen

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BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – A new breach has been discovered in a ditch in Belen on Wednesday after heavy rain overnight caused flooding in some areas. The airport in Belen measured almost two inches of rain, prompting a flash flood warning for residents.

Just after midnight, that flash flood warning expired but residents are still seeing effects from the excess water at the Highline Canal. Rain has been a big issue in Belen for years.

A photo from the City of Belen Facebook page shows just how much water is pouring over the canal currently. However, back in 2019, that same canal breached not once, but three separate times.

Also around that time, Senator Gregory Baca introduced a bill designating nearly $2 million to build retention ponds on the west side of town and that bill failed. “It flooded several dozens of houses, brought silt in from the irrigation ditch. We had people digging out, really kind of third world,” said Sen. Baca.

The City of Belen declared a flood emergency at 1 a.m. on Wednesday. Crews are now working to pump areas that are seeing the worst of this flooding.

The city has also opened an emergency shelter at Dennis Chavez Elementary School in Los Chavez. It is unknown if any residents have had to use it at this time. The City of Belen reports that the Belen Municipal Court was flooded overnight and is closed Wednesday for cleanup. Additionally, Belen Magistrate Court is closed Wednesday due to flooding.

Summer school at Belen High School has been canceled on Wednesday due to road closures. The public is asked to avoid Delgado Avenue between Mesa Road and Belen High School as the area received heavy damage and crews are working to repair the Belen Highline Canal.

Around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the City of Belen reported a new breach that was discovered along the New Belen Ditch on Mesa Road about a quarter-mile from the city’s northern boundary in the county. Officials say the breach is contributing to continuing water flows in the areas of Impala and Aragon.

The city has a flood assistance line if you need transportation to the shelter, assistance with safe housing for an animal or livestock, are experiencing a problem with your sewer system, or if you need sandbags to help protect your home. The Belen Flood Assistance Line is 505-966-2734.

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