Residents of Las Palomas, Truth or Consequences forced to evacuate

Posted at: 09/13/2013 8:11 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

People in about 200 households were evacuated in around Truth or Consequences Friday morning because of flash floods, overflowing creeks, and a rapidly rising Rio Grande. Many are back at home Friday night but ready to move out again in a hurry if rains resume and floodwaters surge.

Palomas Creek, south of T or C, is usually just a dry gulch, but it was wall-to-wall water Friday afternoon, even while floodwaters receded from yards and pastures along the creek banks. T or C, Williamsburg, and Las Palomas are small towns hugging the Rio Grande, surrounded by steep real estate with rugged canyons that just shoot floodwater down into the valley. Houses were threatened along the Rio Grande, along with Animas Creek and Palomas Creek.

“Chances are we’re gonna lose the house,” said Vance Oliver, watching the river from a carport in Williamsburg. “Pretty good chance. Not gonna be much more you can do. Once it breaks that dirt, it’s all over. That river is coming this way.”

“It’s pretty horrifying,” said Sarah Laskay, who lives in King Canyon. “We had flooding in back of our house. Our dike broke behind our house and there was a major pond and it caused water to just rush. Things have floated away.”

Highway 187 between Williamsburg and Las Palomas was closed because Palomas Creek threatened to wipe out at least one bridge.

“Right now we’re concerned about roadways washing out and getting everybody evacuated that we can get out of there,” said Sierra County Sheriff Joe Baca.

In T or C itself Ralph Edwards Park was under a couple feet of water, but overall flooding in the city was under control.

“I hope the worst is over,” said T or C Police Sgt. George Lee. “Everybody that we have evacuated, even though we are allowing them to return to their homes, they’re still on standby to evacuate in case it happens again.”