New Mexico Floods, Mudslides, and More Rain to Come

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Remnants of the brick retaining wall that once surrounded the backyard of the Trujillo home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Mudslide Near the Petroglyphs National Monument

The Trujillos live on Target Lane in Albuquerque at the base of the volcanoes, the location of the Petroglyphs National Monument.

In the early hours of Tuesday, September 17, Charles Trujillo and his wife were awakened by the sound of an explosion in their backyard.

It was an explosion – an explosion of mud and water that burst through their brick retaining wall, into their back yard, beneath their back door and into their home.

We were carrying buckets of mud out of the house when I decided to call my neighbors and find out if they knew about the flood,” Trujillo explained. Mud flowed beneath the brick retaining wall of his neighbor’s home, but his neighbors were unaware of the flood at that time. “They heard the noise and thought it was a low-flying plane,” Trujillo said. “They were confused by how loud it was, but didn’t realize there was mud flowing into their back yard.”

Mud flowing into the yard of the home of the Trujillo’s neighbors in Albuquerque. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Trujillo’s wife runs a daycare center in their home and the mud flows destroyed all of the backyard play equipment as well as some indoor items. She was also unable to operate her business due to the mud.

In addition to breaking down the wall, destroying the daycare equipment and flooding the home, the flow of mud and water also damaged the outer walls of the home and the structure of some of the adobe walls surrounding the home.

The damage to this beautiful home is heart-wrenching, but the Trujillos were upbeat as they discussed the situation. “We’ve had a lot of help and support,” Mr. Trujillo explained. “The local fire department provided sand bags and at least 30 of our neighbors arrived to help with the clean-up work.”

The Albuquerque Fire Department donated sand bags to help mitigate the damages at the Trujillo home. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

“It felt good to see so many people trying to help,” Trujillo said. Trujillo will most likely receive assistance in paying for the damages.

There is new construction at the top of the hill behind the Trujillo home and this work could have caused the flood by changing the natural flow pattern of rain water, a common problem with new construction.

The path of the mud and water is clearly visible on the mountain side above the Trujillo home. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Damaged Arroyos: Stay Away

Meteorologist Deirdre Kann explained that flood waters in New Mexico are generally controlled by a system of arroyos, or ditches, that are both man-made and natural. The man-made arroyos also follow the natural pattern created by pre-existing water flows. Most of the state is covered with this carefully designed system of arroyos.

Arroyos filling quickly with water near Corrales, New Mexico. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Unfortunately, sometimes people think arroyos are a good place to camp,” Kann explained, so the state started a campaign years ago warning people to stay away from arroyos. Kann believes the campaign was successful as there are few instances now with children or adults camping in the arroyos or using them as play areas.

In the past week, however, the flooding was so severe that many of the arroyos were destroyed with flash floods and heavy rainfall, and had to be rebuilt. As stated before, Kann warned that the rain may continue for some time, so avoiding the arroyos is a wise decision right now.

 New Mexico Floods and Mudslides

As the rain continues, flood waters and mudslides continue to damage New Mexico. Residents listen for warnings, watches, and evacuation orders, and still the rain falls. How long will this season’s Monsoon weather last? Only time will tell.

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