San Juan County estimates $1.4M in repairs after storm

Dan Schwartz The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Local officials are still determining how much it will cost to repair public property in northeastern San Juan County following a violent thunderstorm on Aug. 26, but their estimate so far is nearly $1.4 million, according to county data.

That includes property owned by the county, Aztec and the Farmington Electric Utility System. Aztec School District Finance Director Gary Martinez said contractors are still tallying damage estimates to the district's schools.

The storm appeared to hit Aztec the hardest. But it also pummeled property east of Farmington, overwhelming storm drains along County Road 350 and at McGee Park.

"It's was estimated to be a 500-year storm," County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter said.

The County Commission declared on Sept. 1 that the storm left the county in a state of disaster, allowing officials to request state funds to pay for the damage.

County Emergency Manager Don Cooper said Gov. Susana Martinez began the process of the disaster declaration. If she completes it, the state could reimburse 75 percent of local governments' expenses, he said.

So far, the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has estimated the damage at about $1.2 million, which also excludes the Aztec school district, spokeswoman Karen Takai said. But the county has estimated the damage at nearly $1.4 million.

Officials say those estimates are rough, and how much insurance will cover is not clear.

"There's no hard figures out yet," Takai said.

The storm also damaged private property. It knocked some double-wide mobile homes off their foundation, peeled back roofs and flooded the SunRay Park & Casino horse racing track with so much mud and silt casino officials closed the track for the season.

Bil Homka, Aztec's community development director, said if officials can find about 180 structures damaged in the storm, they'll meet the threshold for the state to declare it a disaster. That could release state funds to help pay for damage to private property, he said.

Homka is hosting a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Aztec City Hall to help home and business owners. He asked that property owners email pictures of their damaged property to the city, as well as a description of the damage, insurance claim information, how much money they may have spent out of pocket, and their names, addresses and phone numbers. The email address is

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