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Los Alamos County Administrator Harry Burgess issued a disaster emergency declaration Thursday afternoon in the wake of last week’s storm events, which delivered more than seven inches of rainfall to the county – surpassing storm specifications for 100-year flood events.
“In the week following the major storms that impacted Los Alamos County - especially storms that came through Los Alamos the morning of Friday, Sept. 13 - our crews have had the opportunity to sweep through the community and our surrounding canyons to check for damage to infrastructure. The effects of the storm have proven to be more extensive than first realized, which is the reason for issuance of the declaration a week after the storms have passed. We have infrastructure that will require significant and costly repairs,” Burgess said.
On Tuesday afternoon, the county submitted reports to FEMA and the State of New Mexico with descriptions and photos that outlined visible damage to canyon-bottom utility lines, retaining walls, retention ponds, fencing, culverts and roadway storm drain inlets. In addition, the Los Alamos Reservoir located above western Los Alamos received massive storm-water run-off containing large logs and debris.
The reservoir sits below the burn scar from the 2011 Las Conchas wildfire. Reconstruction of the Los Alamos Canyon Dam was completed just last May. Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith stated that “the dam performed as designed, containing debris and attenuating some of the flood flow. Before the reservoir can be put to use for recreation purposes and non-potable water supply, it will need to be dredged.”
More on this story in Friday's Los Alamos Monitor.