Ex-Hurricane Dolly floods parts of NM, Texas

Monday, July 28th 2008, 8:55 am
By: News 9

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) -- Hundreds of people were forced out of homes and campgrounds by flooding caused by torrential rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Dolly. Two people were reported still missing Monday.

The National Weather Service posted flash flood watches across much of eastern New Mexico for Monday.

The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said up to 9 inches of rain had fallen since Friday in the mountainous area around Ruidoso, in south-central New Mexico.

Public officials said 300 to 500 people were evacuated from homes, a campground and a recreational vehicle park after the Rio Ruidoso went over its banks early Sunday. Residents were still out of their homes early Monday.

"If Noah'd been around, it would have been good to build an ark," said state Department of Public Safety spokesman Peter Olson.

State officials estimated more than 60 homes had been damaged. Nine bridges were reported under water and several roads were closed, including part of U.S. 70, the area's main highway, authorities said. A street at River Ranch RV Park turned into a muddy river, and the race track at Ruidoso Downs was flooded, canceling Sunday's entire race card.

"The race track is a river. I've never seen it like this here," said horse trainer Joel Marr.

Ruidoso police said they received reports of two people being swept away in separate incidents after apparently losing their footing near the river, said Tom Schafer, Ruidoso's emergency management coordinator. He didn't have details.

A helicopter was sent to pick up 20 to 30 people who walked uphill from a flooded campsite, Schafer said. The people were safe on about an acre of land, but authorities wanted to get them out before more rain fell, he said.

In Texas, the weather service said some areas of El Paso got as much as 3 inches of rain during the weekend and city officials said they received 17 reports of flooding in homes.

At Harlingen, Texas, the city's Valley International Airport was reopened Sunday, four days after Hurricane Dolly shut it down.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)