Thursday, August 19, 2010

Socorro County Declared Disaster Area

By John Larson

SOCORRO – Several washed out county roads will be repaired or cleaned up thanks to Socorro County being designated as a disaster area by Governor Bill Richardson.
Richardson signed the Executive Order Tuesday, Aug. 17 that also included Mora and McKinley counties, as well as portions of the Navajo Nation in Western New Mexico, the City of Farmington and the Pueblo of Acoma. A total of $1.9 million has been allocated for all locations.
Socorro County will be receiving $750,000.
County Manager Delilah Walsh said the county had requested $1.2 million after heavy rains in late July and early August wreaked havoc on outlying gravel roads.
“Most of our damages are where roads washed out,” Walsh said. “We’re going to have to re-do sections, starting with laying base course. We’ll be reimbursed after we get the work done.”
Jerry Wheeler from the county’s Emergency Management office said work has already been started on the worst cases.
“We’re starting on the ones we get the most calls on, and work from there,” Wheeler said. “In total there are about 40 miles that are in need of repair.”
Some of the worst damages include the road going into Hop Canyon, along with a cattle guard; Paterson Canyon road; the first seven miles of the road from Magdalena to Riley, including a culvert; and La Jencia Road.
East of the Rio Grande work will be done on roads 127 and 131, north of highway 380; Highways 179 and 135, and 129/147; County Road 63; Bosquecito road; and the Quebradas Byway (Escondida to Highway 380).
The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will coordinate all requests for assistance.
Cabinet Secretary John W. Wheeler said, “Our Response and Recovery Bureau has been working with the local agencies since the Monsoon rains started. Even though the rain came late this year, it has been intense and according to the National Weather Service there is more to come.”
The Governor has also authorized to New Mexico National Guard to provide military support to civil authorities as needed for this emergency.
Wheeler said officials from the federal government will be visiting Socorro County Monday, Aug. 23 to assess the damages.
“We may be getting additional help, as well, if we qualify for federal disaster funds,” he said.

Picture: Recent heavy rains severely damaged many roads in Socorro County, prompting the governor to declare the county as a disaster area. The county road department’s maintenance supervisor, Art Gonzales, stands in a washed -out section of Highway 131, north of Stallion Road.

Photo by Jerry Wheeler

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