Officials celebrate completion of $24M McKinley Channel Project

[anvplayer video=”5114322″ station=”998122″]

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — For locals like Susan Payne, 2006 is remembered as the year of the flood.

“I was actually out of state at the time and I heard about it and didn’t even know if I was going to come home to a house. I live up in the Sun Streets and of course they got hit really hard,” said Payne, who is now the mayor of Alamogordo.

Payne’s home was spared, but many others not so lucky when fast-rising waters battered the city and led to millions of dollars in property damages.

Payne made the remarks to a small audience at a ribbon cutting in Washington Park to mark the completion of the $24 million McKinley Channel Project.

Construction on the channel began in 2011 and is the final piece of a larger $90 million Alamogordo Flood Control Project, an eight-phase flood management effort by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the local government.

Officials said the idea for the overall project came about in the 1960s. It is estimated the McKinley Channel will safeguard 1200 homes and businesses that would be at risk in a major flood event.

On Wednesday, it was described as a triumph of collaboration and persistence.

“It’s an amazing achievement that underscores everyone’s 100 percent commitment to protecting the region from flooding and serving our community,” said Lt. Col Patrick M. Stevens of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Albuquerque Division.

Speakers reminded the audience Wednesday that the project was fraught with challenges that included securing the necessary funds and constant changes in plans due to growing populations in certain parts of the city.

But they now say they are glad the years of construction are over.

“It’s exciting to see this part of the project finally completed it’s certainly been a longtime coming.” Payne said.