Christian Baste, of Albuquerque takes a walk alongside the flowing waters moving through the Swinburne Dam on the westside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Friday, 13 September 2013. Previously drought-stricken rivers surged their banks across New Mexico on Friday, closing roads, stranding children at schools and forcing evacuation from Las Vegas to Truth or Consequences from 'life-threatening' floods. Photo: Marla Brose / The Albuquerque Journal

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN   
13 September 2013

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – The New Mexico National Guard and other rescue crews evacuated dozens of campers and residents who were stranded by floodwaters along the Pecos River as New Mexico was drenched Thursday by another round of record rainfall.

While the welcomed moisture is helping the state out of an unprecedented drought, the runoff was threatening an RV park near Brantley Lake and had pooled up around the community of Lakewood. Crews were using boats and helicopters to bring about 70 people to dry land, where they were checked by medical personnel and bussed to a shelter in Carlsbad.

National Guard officials said they were concerned floodwaters could breach a channel above the lake and spread out into an old lake bed, flooding the area and posing “life-threatening events.”

Empty reservoirs along the Pecos River were filling up with muddy water Thursday afternoon, as northern New Mexico braced for its share of the moisture. Officials said areas with recent wildfire burn scars and mountain slopes — and places downstream from those areas — would be particularly vulnerable to mudslides and flooding.

“The rainfall totals from when this event began are going to be record-breaking, they already have been,” said Kerry Jones, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albuquerque.

Jones said it’s likely some areas could see 6 to 10 inches of rain by the weekend. In one spot in the Guadalupe Mountains of southern New Mexico, more than 11 inches fell in a 24-hour period, which forecasters described as “unbelievable.”

The rain-soaked plains of eastern New Mexico were shedding runoff into arroyos that were draining into the Pecos River. At Avalon Dam just north of Carlsbad, federal water managers reported flows of 6,000 cubic feet per second. There’s typically no to little flow through the area at this time of year.

Authorities issued a plea for people to stay away from the river and the dam. [more]

Record rainfall soaks New Mexico, prompts rescues

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