Insurance will cover some storm damage

Aztec school district still calculating repair costs

Dan Schwartz
A vehicle drives through a heavily flooded parking lot on the back side of the school, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, at Aztec High School in Aztec, N.M.

FARMINGTON — Officials still don’t know the exact price tag for repairing public property damaged by a violent thunderstorm last month, but they say insurance will cover a portion of the cost.
“Bottom line, insurance has been working with us since day one,” said Gary Martinez, Aztec Municipal School District’s finance director. 
A thunderstorm on Aug. 26 dropped nearly 4 inches of rain in northeastern San Juan County, lifting mobile homes off their foundations, ripping roofs off homes and washing mud and silt over roads. Hail and wind also battered buildings.
Officials initially estimated nearly $1.4 million in damages to property owned by San Juan County, the city of Aztec and the Farmington Electric Utility System, according to county documents.
But that estimate doesn’t include the Aztec Municipal School District, which is still tallying the damage and so far has approximately $20,000 in repair invoices. 
Under its insurance plan, the school district must pay a $1,000 deductible for damage to buildings valued at less than $10 million, Martinez said. He said damage to district property exceeds that deductible.
Aztec’s finance director, Kathy Lamb, also said insurance will cover the cost to repair city buildings damaged by the storm. The city’s deductible is $2,500, and damage to its buildings surpasses that, she said.
But the county’s and the city of Farmington’s insurance policies likely won’t cover the cost of damages to their property, officials said.
Before insurance pays out, the county must spend $100,000 in repairs on most of the buildings damaged in the storm, and the county’s buildings didn’t sustain that much damage, said Emergency Manager Don Cooper.
Much of the damage to Farmington’s utility was to telephone poles. Repairs on each pole were $4,000 to $6,000, and the city foots the first $10,000 in damage to each pole, Claims Manager Ezora Boognl said.
Earlier this month, Gov. Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency in the state for existing and future monsoon damage to public property. This freed up $750,000 to pay for 75 percent of the cost in repairs.
Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.