Belen bracing for future storms after canal breach | KOB 4

Belen bracing for future storms after canal breach

Kai Porter
July 10, 2018 10:23 PM

BELEN, N.M. - Flood victims in Belen are still cleaning up, five days after a canal breach sent a wall of water rushing into their neighborhood. Now, some homeowners are concerned because more rain could be on the way.


Heavy rain turned Hansen Avenue into a raging river of flood water Thursday evening. Terrified neighbors were helpless to stop it after the Highline Canal at the end of their street clogged with debris and suddenly burst open.

“All of a sunned there was a little runoff,” said Elmer Candelaria. “Then all of sudden, it just blew up. It just blew everything out from the bottom, not from the top.”

Candelaria says that was the third time the Highline Canal burst, and he fears it will happen again.

“I’m getting kind of scared of the rain already,” said Candelaria.  “Keeping an eye on the clouds. It’s kind of scary you know. I don’t want to do this again.”

Mike Hamman, CEP of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, which maintains the Highline Canal, says the original problem has been fixed.

“We don’t expect the same break to happen because that’s been repaired and it’s actually been raised a little bit, more than what it was before,” said Hamman. “But it doesn’t mean some other part of the canal wouldn’t break if there was a large storm event.” 

There is a multi-million dollar plan to put retention ponds along the canal to prevent it from flooding in the future. But Hamman says they’re still trying to secure funding to start the work.

However, Candelaria says he wants to see a more permanent solution.

“I don’t think it’s enough. They should put cement at least to maybe stop it,” he said.

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District says it will be monitoring future rainstorms and water levels in the canal.

The Red Cross has also been assisting the flood victims with resources and supplies to clean up the damage.

If you’d like to help Candelaria and his family repair their flood damage, click here.


Kai Porter

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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