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Socorro residents sue city for flood damages
By: Stacey Welsh
SOCORRO, Texas -- A group of about 30 people filed a lawsuit against the city of Socorro, asking for between $200,000 and $1 million in damages from flooding in September.
"Our area has been neglected completely by the city not providing any type of reservoirs or any drainage to that area, knowing that there's flooding every time it rains," Socorro resident Irma Sanchez said.
The group's case states it believes the city's decision to build ditches on the north side of Stockyard Drive redirected floodwater coming from upstream in Sparks. The case also states that water spilled out of ditches and flooded homes on Patti Jo Drive and Arlene Circle.
Socorro District 1 City Council Member Sergio Cox said the city decided to build those ditches to divert floodwater away from the Valley Ridge neighborhood, which flooded in 2006.
"Unfortunately, by the time 2010 came around, all we were able to do was divert it and build a new bridge on Stockyard to go into the arroyo that was already there," Cox said.
Cox said because ditches worked to prevent flooding in the past few years, he is not sure whether the city is to blame. However, Cox said Socorro cannot currently afford compensation if the city loses the lawsuit.
"It's kind of like a domino effect. The city of Socorro works off its taxpayers, and if a taxpayer sues us, somebody has to pay for it. Ultimately, it's going to be another taxpayer," Cox said.
An attorney from the Davis Law Firm said the group could have a chance at winning the lawsuit.
"In this case, it appears that some constructing was done to some ditches and things were diverted in other different ways. A good case could be made that they didn't do ample research on what diverting the water in that fashion might do to the homes," attorney Eric Martinez said.
He also said the residents could be justified in asking for thousands of dollars in damages.
"Whether you have $10 damage or you have $1 million damage, somebody caused that injury to you or your property. Therefore under the law, if you win that lawsuit, they are to make you whole," Martinez said.
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid is representing the residents involved and said this process could take months.
"The City of Socorro has been made aware of the lawsuit that has been filed by several of our constituents. The attorney of the City of Socorro and his team will review the lawsuit to investigate the claims that it makes and learn more about it. We will evaluate it and respond appropriately in due course," Socorro Mayor Jesus Ruiz said in a statement.
The process will start once the city of Socorro sends a response in writing to the law firm about whether or not it agrees with the claims.