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County officials are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to install a gate on the Rocky Dam to reduce the likelihood of another major flooding in the area, as happened just recently on the 2021 Remembrance Day weekend.
The Chavez County Council of Commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of the resolution asking for a gate, stating in the document that the floods of 2021 led to “unjustified human suffering and hardship.”
From May 28 to June 1 in Chavez County and its municipalities – Roswell, Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur – there was what was called “100 years of rain”, which in this area of New Mexico is considered 5 inches of rain within 24 hours . According to the National Weather Service, rain began in the Roswell area on May 28, and since then until May 30, 5.05 inches of rain has fallen in the area. The community’s rain, hail and snow community network had reports of an additional 1.02 inches of rain in the county on June 1st.
Although no deaths were reported in the county as a result of the storm, residents and businesses reported destroyed and damaged homes, buildings, schools and farm equipment and businesses, as well as the loss of pets, farm animals and livestock.
The city of Roswell and Chavez County received emergency funding of $ 750,000 each from Governor Michel Luhan Grisham and the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management of New Mexico in early June to help cover damage to public buildings and infrastructure, as well as other activities. flood recovery.
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Representatives of the Chavez County Flood Commission said flooding in southern Roswell and Midway occurred after a dam broke through the Hondo River flood west of Roswell. Both city and county officials said the breach was caused largely because the Rocky Dam is not closed, allowing water from the dam to overflow into the Rio Honda as well as the Arroyo Rocky Stream.
The Rocky Dam is part of the Twin Rivers Dam, supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, located approximately 14 miles southwest of Roswell. Another dam, the Diamond A Dam, has a gate that was used during a storm in 2021 to hold water.
Because the Rocky Dam was not cleaned, heavy rainwater “flowed uncontrollably until the dam was drained. This ultimately defeated the drainage canal and led to the failure of the subversive dam № 3 on the Hondo River, ”the county resolution said.
The resolution also states that officials of the Chávez County Flood Commission have requested the Engineering Corps at least since 2006, including in a letter written in April 2007.
City and county authorities also met with the engineering corps when the floods began in 2021, and city officials asked if an army group could set up some type of temporary barriers on the Rocky Dam.
Tim Jennings, the current flood commissioner of Chavez County, gave the commissioners information on some of the commission’s efforts, including with the diversion of the dam. The breach in the berm was repaired in the days following the flood, and work continues to widen it by 12 feet and deepen it by 4 feet.
“Based on the terrain that is there, rain is still possible and parts of Roswell are still flooded. It doesn’t alleviate the whole problem, ”Jennings said.
He said he appreciated the county resolution in support of the Rocky Dam Gate and that he spoke with a man in Roswell who works with the Corps of Engineers who assured him he wanted to ask about the gates and federal security opportunities. funds for this.
Another possibility, Jennings said, would be to build another dam to divert water toward the Felix River. He estimated the value at $ 12 million or more.
A representative of the Engineering Corps did not respond to a request for information. According to one of the group’s websites, the Twin River Dam was completed in August 1963 and allowed in 1954 after a “catastrophic” flood in the area in 1941. Other major floods before the completion of the dam occurred in 1937 and 1954.
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