State of Emergency Declared at Santa Clara Pueblo Over Flood Damage

Last year’s Las Conchas fire in New Mexico is still having repercussions, as flooding and damage caused the Santa Clara Tribal Council and Governor Walter Dasheno to declare a state of emergency for the Santa Clara Pueblo.

“Tribal Council and staff knew this would happen when the monsoon rains came,” said Dasheno in a joint statement. “We never knew it would be to this extent.”

The statement said that raging water, debris and other problems stemming from the fire damage occurred on July 5 and again on July 10 at Santa Clara Pueblo, the latter when an inch and a half of rain fell in half an hour, the wave of water racing downhill through Santa Clara Creek and rising to six feet in some places.

Among other issues, the tribe’s government building and adjacent senior center had to be evacuated because of an exposed gas line. Although lines under creek beds are normally at least four feet under ground, the extreme runoff stripped the soil away.

“What people have to understand is that we’re not just dealing with flooding,” Dasheno said. “This gas line incident is a perfect example of the number of things we’re dealing with because of the burn scar flooding from the Las Conchas Fire.”

The Las Conchas fire scorched nearly 157,000 acres, according to InciWeb.

The emergency declaration was approved unanimously by the Santa Clara Tribal Council members. It allows the Pueblo to seek emergency funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies, the statement said.

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