As widespread flooding struck Carlsbad in the wake of heavy rainfall the Monday and Tuesday, major roadways were blocked off and police and emergency responders patrolled the banks of the Pecos River to keep the public safe.
Here is what we know.
Matthew Johnson of the National Weather Service in Midland said water levels along the Pecos River were receding below Avalon Dam, Brantley Lake and Dark Canyon. He said levels could rise during the late night and early morning as more rain was forecast for Eddy County.
Eddy County Emergency Manager Jennifer Armendariz said evacuations of the Lakewood area were not definite. She the SKP Ranch RV Park had some rising water but no evacuations were being considered.
NWS forecasted flood levels to fall Wednesday along the Pecos River.
Eddy County Emergency Manager Jennifer Armendariz said her office was working with the Artesia Fire Department and some northern volunteer fire departments to move residents to shelter from the Lakewood area between Artesia and Carlsbad.
“We’ve got some pretty heavy flooding in that area. We’re evaluating that situation and see if we need to set up an evacuation center there,” she said.
Armendariz said 28 roads in southern and northern Eddy County were closed due to flooding.
She said sandbags were available at volunteer fire departments across Eddy County for residents concerned about potential flooding.
“The sandbags will not be filled, residents will have to go to the fire department fill the bags themselves. The shovels, the sand and the bags are there,” Armendariz added.
Eddy County, in a Facebook page, said that evacuations of the neighborhood near Tansill Dam and Reservoir were “almost complete.”
The update indicated that most impacted residents were either staying with family, friends or had chosen to take shelter at Joe Stanley Smith elementary school in Carlsbad.
According to the post, water flowing from Dark Canyon into the Pecos River had slowed “significantly” and water levels at Avalon Lake had peaked and were “slightly overflowing” the dam.
Road closures now include the portions of Standpipe, Jones Street, Callaway and Westridge, Socorro and Standpipe, Fisherman’s Lane and Lakewood Road.
Residents were asked to stay home unless travel was absolutely necessary and advised to follow all road signs and closure notices.
Visitors to the Carlsbad Caverns with high clearance vehicles were beginning to exit the area, officials said as water there receded.
More storms on the way for Carlsbad.
Matthew Johnson of the National Weather Service (NWS) Midland station said storms near Whites City were moving toward Carlsbad.
He said storms would develop late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
Johnson said storms could produce heavy amounts of rain as they push off the higher terrain of western Eddy County.
“There’s potential for more flooding into the Pecos River,” he said.
Johnson added scattered storms were forecast Wednesday.
Vanessa Hutchins along with Lionel and Jessica Granger were watching the skies and the nearby Lower Tansill Dam waiting for possible evacuations.
The neighbors live on South James Street. The Granger’s have lived in their home for nearly 30 years.
“We’ve been through this before,” said Lionel Granger.
“We’ve been through it three times already. Our house has been under a couple of feet of water too,” he said.
Jessica Granger said waiting was hectic.
“Just playing the waiting game right now,” she said. “Friends and family have called us and told us to be at their house.”
In a Tweet, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that the state is coordinating local resources in response to the flooding.
She wrote that the New Mexico Department of Health, Safety and Emergency Management “is maintaining close communication with local floodplain managers and the Army Corps of Engineers.”
New Mexico Speaker Brian Egolf said:
“It is with much regret that I have learned about the flooding occurring in Carlsbad and communities throughout southeast New Mexico. Now is the time to follow instructions from local officials and State Homeland Security and to avoid flooded roads and areas. May this storm, which has brought much-needed moisture to our state, now pass quickly so our fellow New Mexicans can return home safely.”
The low water crossing at Calloway Drive was closed at 5 p.m., according to City of Carlsbad.
Water continues to rise at low water crossings throughout the city as expected thunderstorms began dropping more rain on the area.
Evacuations of the neighborhoods behind Lower Tansill Dams was still underway, officials said.
About 40 residents were impacted by the evacuation and were urged to take shelter at
Evacuations continue for the neighborhoods bordering the Pecos River.
Canal Street remains open as of 4:52 p.m. Eddy County officials are battling rumors of a broken dam at Avalon Lake, saying only that overflow at the lake is causing high water levels.
In response to the flooding House Republican Leader Jim Townsend (R-Artesia) and State Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad) issued a joint statement:
“We are deeply concerned about the flooding in Eddy County. We strongly urge our community to take notice of any road closures and evacuations. Please follow instructions from officials and do not put yourself or others in dangerous situations during the storm. We will continue to follow updates on the storm, flooding and any closures and evacuations. Our thoughts and prayers are with our Eddy County communities and we will assist in any way possible as the storm passes and water recedes.”
At the San Jose Bridge, Carlsbad police Sgt. Josh Calder said motorists should avoid the area as the water flowed over the bridge, making it impassable.
He said he expected police and emergency crews would be at the scene all night with more rain forecast until at least midnight.
“Do not drive into that,” Calder said. “We’re waiting for it to recede. If you’re traveling north or south through town, the only road is going to be Canal for a while. With the warning we got, they’re saying it might last until midnight.
“I would imagine we’ll be out here all night keeping people from entering this roadway.”
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Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway was at the scene as local residents gathered along the river banks to take photographs with their phones.
A drone flew overhead as the water could be seen rising up mere feet beneath the nearby parallel Canal Street Bridge where traffic was backed up on the city’s main thoroughfare.
“We needed the water but my gosh,” Janway said. “Don’t cross over the low water crossings. You can by the current that you can get swept away. We’re blocking off all the dangerous roads and working with the county to keep everyone safe.”
Dorothy Baker was visiting friends in Carlsbad when they heard the roads had flooded.
She and her friends quickly headed out to the San Jose Bridge to “check it out,” she said.
“We’re not sure that bridge is going to hold up,” Baker said. “This is crazy. We heard it was flooding so we came down here to see. You just don’t see this kind of thing.”
The Lower Tansill Dam and Reservoir in Carlsbad flooded prompting evacuation of residents on the 400 blocks of Nelson Street, James Street and Sooper Street.
Evacuees were being asked to assemble at Joe Stanley Elementary School.
Meanwhile the San Jose Boulevard Bridge was overtaken with water, meaning north and southbound traffic was largely confined to Canal Street.
The National Weather Service(NWS) in Midland, Texas issued flood warnings for the Pecos River around Carlsbad, below Dark Canyon and Malaga through Wednesday.
“Expect water to continue to runoff,” said Meteorologist Matthew Johnson.
Eddy County Emergency Management and Eddy County Fire and Rescue were working with local agencies to address the flooding, read an Eddy County news release.
“We are experiencing flash flooding in several areas,” said Eddy County Public Works Director Jason Burns.
“It’s coming and going depending on where we’re at we had several areas farther south yesterday (Monday) that were seeing and experiencing flooding over the low water crossings.”
Tuesday he said western parts of Eddy County experienced flood waters coming down from Dark Canyon and Rocky Arroyo.
Canal Street at the bridge was not closed, Carlsbad City officials said, though they cautioned that with rising water it could potentially be closed by 4 p.m. to thru traffic.
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Rain stopped and sunshine presented itself in some parts of Eddy County Tuesday afternoon. Johnson said additional precipitation forecast for the evening meant possible residual flooding for the Carlsbad area.
Rainfall chances for the rest of Tuesday afternoon were 77 percent, according to Johnson. As the afternoon progressed into the night, Johnson said the chances were 65 percent and chances Wednesday were 43 percent.
Current road closures in and around Eddy County
Black River Crossing on John D Forehand, Black River, Higby Hole, Longhorn Road at the Pecos River Crossing, Dark Canyon from U.S. 62/180 to 137, Washington Ranch Road by Joel Fire Station, Fanning Road, Joy Road from U.S. 82 to Funk Road, Crossbuck Road between Rock Daisy Road, Rockin R Red Road, Bolton Road from U.S. 82 to Richey Road, Lower Tansill and James, San Jose Boulevard at La Tienda, Boyd Drive at Radio Boulevard, the County’s press release read.
“In the event that you come to a low water crossing that is overflowing, do not attempt to cross it the water has more force than you think,” Burns said.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.