ROADS RE-OPEN TO HATCH, ACCESS TO SOME AREAS REMAINS RESTRICTED

ROADS RE-OPEN TO HATCH, ACCESS TO SOME AREAS REMAINS RESTRICTED

The New Mexico State Police have re-opened most highways leading to the Village of Hatch. Highway 185 remains closed.

Access to flooded areas remains under the control of law enforcement. Access to many flooded areas, including private homes and businesses, will not be permitted until search-and-rescue operations have been completed and all obvious safety hazards are cleared. Residents should be aware that if additional rainfall occurs, new evacuations can occur, so be prepared to leave all areas with minimal advance notice.

Local radio and television stations will provide regular updates, along with advice and instructions about where to obtain medical aid, food, clothing and other forms of assistance.

The affected areas are not tourist destinations, and residents are asked not to drive to flooded areas to simply look around. Roads are likely to be littered with debris in some areas, posing a danger to tires. Sewage and other dangerous materials may contaminate standing water. Avoid standing water.

An evaluation of the Village water system is underway.

Power lines may be down in some areas, and fences with lines on them may be energized. Snakes and other dangerous animals have likely been washed downstream and will be seeking higher ground. Be aware of your surroundings.

If you are allowed by police into a cleared area, enter buildings with caution. Open windows and doors to dry the building. Do not reactivate flipped breakers until a licensed electrician has inspected the premises. Electrical fires can result from activating power to compromised circuits.

Avoid open flames and candles in building without power. Ensure there are no gas leaks prior to smoking. Use of battery-powered flashlights and lanterns is encouraged.

Evacuees remain housed at Hatch High School, where the American Red Cross is coordinating shelter operations. Staffers from the Ben Archer Health Clinic are coordinating health support for evacuees.

The American Red Cross is seeking donations of blankets and clothing for adults and children. Many evacuees from Hatch and surrounding areas arrived at evacuation centers wearing soaked clothing and with no provisions. Also sought are donations of diapers and baby formula.

Residents are urged to donate materials to the Las Cruces offices of the American Red Cross and/or The Salvation Army. Donations should NOT be taken to Hatch.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7914.