Earlier today, Thursday, July 15, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed three executive orders declaring states of emergency in the city of Belen, and Valencia and Eddy counties.

These declarations follow the heavy rainfall and severe flooding that began last week, and which continues to threaten public safety and infrastructure in these regions.

“The state of New Mexico was on the ground on day one to begin assisting with our flood response,” said Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova. “Belen has experienced a series of flood emergencies over recent years culminating in the dangerous storm last week.

“With the help of this emergency declaration, continued support from (Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management), and recent state legislative appropriations, we know we will fix the damage and move our city closer to a permanent solution to our flooding issues. We are a resilient city. We will get through this.”

Each executive order provides up to $750,000 for the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to assist with public recovery efforts organized by city and county officials.

The funds can help repair damaged roads, bridges, sewage systems and other infrastructure that residents and businesses need. The New Mexico State Constitution does not allow state emergency funds to be used for direct assistance to private individuals.

Additionally, the declarations for Valencia and Eddy counties mean effected localities within these counties could also be eligible for state assistance.

State emergency declarations also authorize the Adjutant General to activate the New Mexico National Guard for support deemed necessary, and direct all cabinet departments to assist with a statewide response.

“This declaration is a critical step in our county’s recovery,” said Valencia County Emergency Manager Sarah Gillen. “These state funds will give our emergency responders the resources they need to contain this disaster and make crucial repairs and improvements to help prevent future flooding.

“We greatly appreciate the immediate response from DHSEM and the support of Gov. Lujan Grisham and her staff.”

Individuals who have been affected by a disaster can contact the American Red Cross of New Mexico for emergency support and recovery planning at 1-800-842-7349.

Individuals can also contact their local emergency managers for help obtaining sandbags — a simple but effective tool for diverting flood waters. Detailed instructions for filling and placing sandbags are available here.

Residents of Belen can contact the city’s hotline for food assistance at 966-2734. New Mexico Baptist Disaster Relief, available at 506-5309, is also helping Belen residents clean out homes that have been damaged by the flooding.

The Valencia County Emergency Management office can be reached at 866-2042.

“These declarations will help our local governments implement critical response and recovery efforts to keep their communities safe,” said DHSEM Secretary Bianca Ortiz-Wertheim.

“Moving forward, DHSEM will continue to work closely with our city and county officials, as well as local (non-government organizations) and our federal partners, and we look forward to a coordinated and effective recovery.”

State Emergency Declarations 2021 Flooding

State Emergency Declarations, 2021 Flooding

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.