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Ruidoso prepares for more rain as weekend storms prompt evacuations and water rescues

Smokey Bear Hotshots from the Lincoln National Forest filling sandbags on Sunday, June 30.
Stacy King-Powers
/
Southwest Incident Management Team 5
Smokey Bear Hotshots from the Lincoln National Forest filling sandbags on Sunday, June 30.

Flash flooding is disrupting wildfire recovery efforts in the village of Ruidoso, where last month the South Fork and Salt Wildfires in the Lincoln National Forest burned over 25,000 acres and forced thousands of residents to flee.

The wildfires that threatened the town are nearing full containment, but over the weekend, flash flooding caused evacuations for communities surrounding the burn scars. Brianna Ventura, Public Information Officer for Lincoln County, said first responders rescued 164 people during flooding events over the weekend.

“There’s just all kinds of waterways that haven’t seen this amount of water in years, and now mixed with the debris and everything, it’s just become quite the task.”

Ventura said that first responders from multiple different agencies have been helping with the water rescues.

“We have the National Guard here luckily, but we [also] have swift water rescue teams called in from other states, other counties. A lot of those rescues were also done by first responders here in Lincoln County and surrounding areas. It’s taking all of these different entities and resources to get this done,” she said. “If you don’t have to be here in the village of Ruidoso or Lincoln County, we’re asking our visitors to please stay where you’re at so that it lessens the number of rescues needing to be done.”

As New Mexico’s monsoon season continues, first responders are preparing for more rain, and officials are urging residents to heed flood warnings as disaster recovery resumes.

Jonny Coker is a Multimedia Journalist for KRWG Public Media. He has lived in Southern New Mexico for most of his life, growing up in the small Village of Cloudcroft, and earning a degree in Journalism and Media Studies at New Mexico State University.
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