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Gov. frees funds for NM gas outage

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By Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE — Gov. Susana Martinez has signed an executive order that frees up as much as $750,000 in state emergency funding to help with costs incurred by state and local agencies after last week’s record cold temperatures and natural gas outages that affected tens of thousands of New Mexicans.
The governor’s order was announced Thursday as teams with the Federal Emergency Management Agency began assessing damages from southern New Mexico north to Española and Taos.
Fourteen local governments had already submitted disaster declarations to the state, and the governor’s office expected at least five more to be filed soon.
A total damage estimate has yet to be tallied for the nearly week-long state of emergency, but the governor’s office expects it to exceed the $2.4 million required for a presidential disaster declaration.
Such a declaration would enable FEMA to reimburse local governments for costs associated with uninsured damages and response efforts.
New Mexico Gas Co. shut down service to Taos, Española and other Northern New Mexico communities last week when pressure in supply lines dropped sharply because of electrical blackouts in West Texas.
After a week, service had been restored.
Gas company executives were expected to appear Friday before the state Senate.
Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, introduced a memorial that calls for a task force to investigate and make recommendations on how to prevent a loss of service in the future.
By Thursday, more than 700 customers had filed damage claims with the gas company and spokeswoman Monica Hussey said that number continued to grow.
The utility established a $1 million fund to settle claims from damages.