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La Union residents, officials discuss flood damage recovery
By: Stacey Welsh
LA UNION, N.M. -- Residents in La Union held a community meeting with county and state officials Saturday to figure out how they should begin cleaning up after heavy rain Thursday and Friday caused a dam to break. The water destroyed homes and roads and left hundreds without basic needs like running water.
About 100 people gathered at La Union Catholic Church to share their concerns.
"I went through Hurricane Katrina in Lake Charles, and it was bad there, but this is horrible. I feel like they need to get out here and help these people," La Union resident Michael Nelson said.
The Dona Ana County Emergency Operation Center said sandbags are still being delivered to and distributed from the La Union Fire District Station. The county flood commission and roads department have also recommended evacuation for residents in the 15000 block of Las Alturas Drive near Las Cruces and portions of Alvarez Road near La Union.
State Rep. Mary Helen Garcia (D - Las Cruces) said she has an idea to get funding to La Union as soon as possible.
"I think that there is a fund that we can tap into immediately and that's the Colonias Infrastructure Fund. It was started here a long time ago by Governor Richardson. There is an awful lot of money there, and I do think they have now perhaps a fund now that some of the counties have not used," Garcia said.
The emergency operation center also said a couple of roads in the community are completely washed out, some utilities are exposed and some people do not have road access to their homes. People seeking shelter can also stay at the Del Cerro Community Center, and the Dona Ana County American Red Cross chapter is maintaining its temporary shelter.
"The roads department has been here in the overnight hours. They're going to continue through the weekend. We've got people from Health and Human Services who are working with the Red Cross and the office of emergency management, so resources are being deployed," Dona Ana County Director of Public Information Jess Williams said.
The Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners is expected to meet in emergency session at 9 a.m. Monday, and it could issue a declaration of disaster in order to seek state and federal assistance.
The Red Cross is also accepting donations of cash, bottled water, nonperishable food, cots, blankets and clothes.