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State's homeland security agency to prepare communities

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By Carol A. Clark

Director Tim Manning of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management seeks to prepare New Mexico communities for possible disaster. Manning’s agency will conduct two specialized briefings on the flooding threats posed to various regions of the state. Threats include potentially high spring runoff and high fire danger. Diverse winter weather has left heavy snow pack in the northern, northwestern, and central mountains, as well as extremely dry conditions in the eastern and southeastern parts of the state, he said in a news release.“Being proactive and preparing for extreme conditions and emergencies up front is the key to protecting life and property,” Manning said. “Our emergency management professionals will be working closely with local emergency managers and first responders to make sure everyone is prepared to handle any situations that arise.”Los Alamos County Emergency Management Coordinator Philmont Taylor said local emergency responders have been discussing the issues for quite some time and get together with the wildland fire group twice monthly.“We discuss climate summaries and surveys and we’ve been aware of the potential for runoffs,” Taylor said. He continued, “The potential for flooding hazards on the Hill are actually much less than in lower lying areas such as Tierra Amarilla. Monsoon type rains are more of a local problem.”“Last year, we had some pretty strong rains and did have some localized flooding and we had to break out the sand bags,” Taylor said. “We delivered piles of sand in our lower lying areas, such as around the skating rink. We can’t assume runoff will never happen up here because sometime it may, and every year we confront this and prepare for it.”Taylor credited Los Alamos County road crews with being ready to respond to any local situation.