Rancher’s cattle displaced by flooding in San Miguel County
SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, N.M. — The past few months have been a dreadful for the residents of San Miguel County. The area was hit by the largest fire in New Mexico history, then hit with waist-deep flooding that not only put lives in jeopardy but also washed away some people’s livelihoods.
Jo Ann Ortiz is a rancher in the area, and she spent days searching for her missing cattle. Ortiz said her way of life was hit by a double disaster – first a fire burnt down their pastures, then a flood displaced their cattle.
“We were just looking for it, back and forth, back and forth, until one of the individuals that was helping us look for it spotted the calf inside the river,” Ortiz said.
The calf was stuck in the flood waters motionless.
“It’s devastating, because you know, you never expect that, you know, we knew there was going to be a flood, but we didn’t know our cattle would be washed away by the flood and it’s hard to take, it’s heartbreaking,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz added that this isn’t the only cow that went missing.
“We couldn’t find the mother cow,” she said. “We looked for her for two days. We finally found her yesterday at a neighbors and she is all cut up, and injured. One of our bulls that was there with the cows is also, his right foot is pretty badly cut, either with wire or something.”
Ortiz said she hopes the vet can save her cows because her ranch is in need of life line.
“You know, it’s really a setback for farmers and ranchers in our area. When you look at meadows, when you look at pastures people that harvest, hay, they are not going to be able to harvest any hay. There is so much debris, and silt in their fields, and rocks, it’s devastating, you feel like crying sometimes.”
And as far as help, Ortiz said she expects to bear the cost.
“Can we get help? Probably not, and if we can get help, when?”
Ortiz said the fencing that didn’t burn down in the fire was washed away in the flood – so now cattle are roaming everywhere in the area.