Heavy rains, flooding prompt evacuations in small towns within burn scar

·2 min read

Jul. 2—People living in the communities of Gascon, Rociada, Lower Rociada, Cañoncito, Manuelitas, Sapello and

Las Dispensas were advised to evacuate after heavy rains inundated the area Friday afternoon.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque issued the warning for south-central Mora County and northwestern San Miguel County.

Originally issued through late afternoon, the warning was extended through early Friday evening, according to a bulletin from the weather service.

Late Friday afternoon, Doppler radar estimates from the weather service indicated about 2.8 inches of rain had fallen around Gascon.

"We do have some flooded roadways up in Mora County. Several of those roadways have been closed at this time," meteorologist Alyssa Clements said. "Some drainages have been spilling out of their banks. We've heard reports of a barn being flooded, so there are some impacts that are ongoing."

New Mexico State Police Officer Ray Wilson, a spokesman for the agency, wrote in an email roads in the area were shut down due to flooding.

In a tweet issued late Friday afternoon, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham warned residents not to cross closed roadways, which can become flood and debris flow areas.

"Do not attempt to cross a flooded roadway," she tweeted. "Turn around, don't drown!"

Wilson also wrote the state police agency is working closely with the sheriff's offices in Mora and San Miguel counties, plus the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and state Department of Transportation, "to evacuate residents who wish to leave the area."

Officials have long warned about the potential flooding in the wake of the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, which began April 6. It is 93 percent contained, but heavy rains on now-barren hillsides have the potential to swell small streams and creeks. Threats of flooding on the Rio San Jose and Manuelitas Creek prompted officials to call for evacuations near those waterways.