Storm floods parts of New Mexico, Texas


Flooding caused by torrential rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Dolly kept hundreds of evacuees away from their homes and campgrounds today, authorities said. Two people were listed as missing.

The National Weather Service posted flash flood watches today across much of eastern New Mexico. The sun broke through this morning, but isolated thunderstorms were forecast throughout the week.

The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said up to 9 inches of rain had fallen since Friday in the mountainous area around Ruidoso, in south-central New Mexico.

The Rio Ruidoso was still running high and muddy today, with water flowing over roads in low-lying areas. A main thoroughfare in the center of Ruidoso, Paradise Canyon Road, was partially washed away, and two mud-covered mobile homes sat askew, washed off their foundations.

Public officials said 300 to 500 people were evacuated from homes, a campground and a recreational vehicle park after the Rio Ruidoso went over its banks early Sunday, and they were still unable to return early today.

"If Noah'd been around, it would have been good to build an ark," said state Department of Public Safety spokesman Peter Olson.

Some 200 other residents of the area were not flooded but were isolated by high water and closed bridges, said Tom Schafer, Ruidoso's emergency management coordinator.

State officials estimated more than 60 homes had been damaged. Nine bridges were reported under water and several roads were closed, but U.S. 70, the area's main highway, was reopened today, authorities said.

Schafer said there were 25 water rescues Sunday, mostly from vehicles but a few from homes. "A lot of people were trying to get through in deep water areas and they got stuck," he said.

National Guard helicopter crews rescued about two dozen campers stranded by high water, Schafer said.

However, some campers remained stranded. "They had to hunker down last night" to await rescue today, he said.

The race track at Ruidoso Downs was flooded, canceling Sunday's entire race card.

"The race track is a river. I've never seen it like this here," said horse trainer Joel Marr.

Ruidoso police said they received reports of two people being swept away in separate incidents after apparently losing their footing near the river, said Schafer. He didn't have details.

In Texas, the weather service said some areas of El Paso got as much as — inches of rain during the weekend and city officials said they received 17 reports of flooding in homes.

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