WASHINGTON – Thursday, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce, Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham sent two joint, bipartisan letters asking the president to act quickly on the state of New Mexico and Santa Clara Pueblo’s requests for disaster assistance from the severe July floods.
Storms in the period from July 19-28 caused flooding and other damage in communities across New Mexico, with some of the worst effects seen in the Central Rio Grande Valley including Bernalillo, Sandoval, Socorro and Valencia counties and the Cochiti, Kewa (Santa Domingo), San Felipe and Sandia Pueblos.
The Santa Clara Pueblo, which is downstream of land damaged in the Las Conchas fire of 2011, also experienced severe flooding. As a result, the state and the Santa Clara Pueblo have each asked for a federal disaster declaration, which would provide federal assistance for restoration, debris removal and cleanup. In their letters – one on behalf of the state and the other on behalf of Santa Clara Pueblo – the lawmakers urged President Obama to “take prompt action” on the requests for aid. The lawmakers added that severe floods in the last week have compounded the damage, causing multiple community evacuations, further public infrastructure damage, landslides and damaged homes across the state.
“It is our understanding that FEMA Region 6 has already started to carry out Preliminary Damage Assessments in several counties. We appreciate this quick action and would encourage the agency to continue its work with communities in New Mexico, including the tribal communities that have been severely impacted,” the lawmakers wrote.
“We…encourage you to carefully and quickly assess Governor Martinez’s major disaster declaration request,” they added. “Further, we ask for your continued attention to the more recent and extreme flooding in New Mexico, and request your expedited assessment of related disaster requests.”
In the case of Santa Clara Pueblo, the lawmakers wrote, “In light of the ongoing losses and possible long-term impacts from flooding during the time period of July 19-21, 2013, we would request your expedited attention to Santa Clara Pueblo’s request for disaster designation and assistance.”