As Belen recovers from flooding, state official offers tips to prepare

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BELEN, N.M. – Cleanup efforts continue in Belen following a week that consisted of flooding and continued downpours.

Bags still line the storefronts on Main Street, but some businesses are open and excited to have people back inside.

"I’m surprised at the way we were able to reopen our doors in just a day or so I’m very happy and couldn’t ask for more,” said Freddie Chaves, owner of Chaves Brother’s Vineyard and Winery.

The winery was flooded like many other businesses, but this was only the beginning of the Monsoon season, which runs July to Aug.

“It’s tricky in the southwest with monsoon season especially in a drought like we are in it just makes the soil so hydrophobic and the water just can’t soak in fast enough,” said State Floodplain Coordinator, Loretta Hatch.

Hatch said even if you don’t live in a marked floodplain, it’s best to always be prepared.

“Be aware it doesn’t have to be raining where you are to flood where you are it happens a lot that it’s raining higher up in your watershed, then that water comes towards you,” she said.

Some other tips include:

Before a flood

  • You can look up what risks are in your area at FEMA’s flood map service center.
  • It may also be helpful to sign up for the local emergency alert system.
  • Make a plan and gather any supplies, including your pets.
  • Follow all warnings by officials, evacuate if you are told.
  • Remember, if you see rushing water turn around, don’t drown.
  • Purchase or renew flood insurance, read the fine print and be aware of the 30-day waiting period.

During a flood

  • Stay off bridges over fast moving water.
  • If driving turn around don’t drown.
  • Evacuate immediately, don’t drive around barriers.

After a flood

  • Avoid driving except in emergencies.
  • Wear protective clothing during clean up, like gloves and boots.
  • Be aware of electrocution, don’t touch electrical equipment, and turn off electricity to prevent shock if safe to do so.
  • Try to avoid wading in flood water left behind, it can be contaminated or be hiding dangerous debris.