San Juan County declares state of disaster after storm

Dan Schwartz The Daily Times
The Daily Times

AZTEC — At its Tuesday meeting, the San Juan County Commission declared a state of disaster in response to the violent storm that swept through Aztec last week.

The move allows the county to request state funds to repair public property pummeled by the storm.

The Aug. 26 storm damaged several county buildings, said County Emergency Manager Don Cooper in an interview before the meeting.

"In fact, I can't use my office," he said. "It's got blowers and driers and stuff stacked on top of everything."

The commission approved the resolution unanimously and without much discussion.

County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter said in an interview after the meeting that officials are still calculating the cost to repair county property damaged by the storm, but he expects it will top $1 million.

Aztec City Manager Josh Ray said the storm caused nearly $1.2 million in damage to city of Aztec property.

The storm dropped between 1.5 and 2 inches of rain on Aztec and nearby communities, said Clay Anderson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Some residents reported almost 4 inches of rain.

"The precipitation totals were not jaw dropping by any stretch of the imagination," Anderson said. "It was just that the rates were incredibly heavy."

Officials said the rain fell so quickly that it overwhelmed culverts, cut streams into dirt roads, flooded buildings and covered parts of McGee Park in silt and mud. Carpenter said the heavy rainfall closed SunRay Park & Casino's horse racing track for the season.

While it was a severe thunderstorm, Anderson said, "it wasn't anything out of the ordinary during the monsoon season."

Also in Tuesday's meeting, the commission approved a resolution to urge the federal government to lift a decades-old ban on exporting crude oil. The resolution states that if Congress overturned the ban, it would create about 3,700 new jobs and generate approximately $640 million in state revenue by 2020.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.