County, FEMA assess flood damage repairs

December 13, 2013 • Local News

Chaves County road staff met with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency this week to assess damages to county roads sustained during September’s flooding events. West Country Club Road near Adobe Mesa Road, seen here, sustained some of the more severe damage. (Jill McLaughlin Photo)

A number of county roads that remain damaged following September’s floods may take six months to a year to repair.

Chaves County road staff met with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials this week to assess several roads, including a section of West Country Club that sustained the most damage.

All roads are open to the public and no structures were lost but the repairs are extensive, said Terry Allensworth, roads operations director.

The cost to repair damages to 17 [auth] sections of roadway is still being estimated. Final totals should be calculated in the next two weeks, Allensworth said.

“We haven’t finalized any costs to anything yet,” Allensworth said.

County staff toured the damaged areas with FEMA officials Monday and Wednesday. President Barack Obama signed a Major Disaster Declaration Oct. 29, making federal funding available to state and local governments on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the storms, flooding and mudslides.

Chaves County must submit proposals for repair to be reimbursed by the state or federal government for a portion of the costs.

When the first team of FEMA responders arrived, floodwaters were still running, said Public Services Director Sonny Chancey. The county sustained damage from the overtopping of the Rio Felix, Berrendo Creek and Salt Creek. The flooding of the Pecos River didn’t damage county structures.

“We were actually dealing with river crossings of three different rivers,” Chancey said. “Which was the first any of us could remember in a long time.”

Red Bridge Road, that was closed when Berrendo Creek’s overflowed the roadway, did not sustain serious damage. But debris left behind remains a problem, Chancey said.

“Red Bridge Road turned out to be minor,” Chancey said. “There’s a lot of debris on the side. We haven’t determined what we’re going to do with that. A lot of debris came down.”

West Country Club Road sustained severe damage. Part of the road was washed out and the structure was eroded, Allensworth said. The county has six gravel roads that were wiped out substantially north and east of town at Chicksaw, Verbena, Salt Creek, Olive, Bojax and Mossman roads.

Repair could take several more months.

“If I had to put an estimate on it, we’re talking several months,” Allensworth said. “It could be six months to a year before everything is 100 percent complete. We’re going to sit down and determine what is most critical.”

The 100-year flood and storm event that swept through the area was not the type of emergency the county typically sets aside funds for in its fiscal year budget.

“We may use emergency funds to pay for it,” Chancey said.

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