COMMISSION DECLARES DISASTER AREA IN SOUTHERN DOÑA ANA COUNTY

COMMISSION DECLARES DISASTER AREA IN SOUTHERN DOÑA ANA COUNTY

The Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners declared southern Doña Ana County a disaster area at an emergency meeting this morning. The disaster declaration was immediately faxed to the Governor’s Office.

Heavy rains the morning of June 29 inundated the communities of Vado, Mesquite, Berino and Del Cerro. More than 20 families have been completely displaced from their homes, and more than 70 residences remain affected by standing water in and around homes. In many cases, the water is contaminated by raw sewage from ruptured septic systems, which creates an ongoing health hazard for people and livestock.

Today’s disaster declaration opens up channels for state and federal funding related to recovery costs and direct assistance for the affected residents.

Doña Ana County will work closely with the Governor’s Office, the Congressional delegation, the New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Environmental Division to seek assistance for the affected residents. The American Red Cross is assisting displaced residents.

Meanwhile, the Doña Ana County Office of Emergency Management continues to coordinate round-the-clock recovery efforts in the affected areas. Roads are being rebuilt, utilities are being restored and water is being pumped from many areas. Elephant Butte Irrigation District officials are working with the county to evaluate how best to divert standing water to area drainage ditches without adversely affecting water users downstream.

Residents are urged to keep children and livestock out of potentially dangerous ponding areas. They are also asked not to pump storm water into the county’s wastewater system. Sand and other solid matter in the standing storm water clogs up the treatment facility and lift stations, thereby slowing or ceasing sewage treatment.

District 1 County Commissioner Oscar Vásquez Butler has scheduled a community meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 6, in the Del Cerro Community Center to update residents and the media about ongoing efforts to provide assistance and ensure the health, safety and welfare of the affected communities.

For more information, call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7229.