Published: 1:00 pm, Wed. Jun. 29th, 2016Updated: 2:06 pm
Eddy County will receive more than $2.3 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to repair roads damaged by the heavy rains and flooding of September 2014.
U.S. Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., announced the funding Tuesday afternoon. Several roads in the county were severely damaged during the severe storms and subsequent floods caused by Hurricane Odile. The FEMA grant will be used for hazard mitigation and repairs to four chip-and-seal roadways and low-water crossings that sustained significant damage.
“Heavy rain and flash flooding from Hurricane Odile caused severe damage in communities throughout New Mexico, and I’m pleased that this additional recovery funding will help Eddy County continue to repair impacted roads and bridges,” said Udall. “Families and hard-working New Mexicans rely on Eddy County’s roads every day to get to school and work, and support their businesses, farms, and the oil and gas industry.
“These repairs will help restore and reinforce Eddy County’s roads and support economic development in the region.”
The $2,382,358 grant is being awarded to Eddy County under the Robert T. Stafford Act and comes on the heels of a grant issued in December 2015 for more than $63.6 million for road repair in the county. While the storms impacted areas throughout the state, Eddy County sustained the highest county-wide damage per capita.
“Extreme flooding and severe weather conditions from Hurricane Odile damaged several roads and critical infrastructure across Eddy County,” said Heinrich. “The local economy depends on the oil and gas industry, WIPP, farming, and potash mining, which all require functional roads to operate.
“This much-needed federal assistance will help restore our communities and businesses, and is a critical step toward the recovery effort.”
“The damage sustained by Eddy County roads because of Hurricane Odile has been a strain on the local economy,” said Pearce. “I am pleased to see the federal government honoring its commitment to provide disaster relief. As with Ruidoso last week, this assistance is vital for Eddy County to continue repairing its roads and bridges.”
Eddy County Commission Chairman Royce Pearson said the additional funding announcement was welcome news to the county.
“The FEMA money is essentially helping with roads, river crossing, bridges, etc.,” Pearson said. “We’ve seen a completion of some of them already, including the CR 19 bridge out in the Hope area, the Harroun Bridge near Loving, and a river crossing south of Artesia. One by one, we’re getting projects completed.
“I thought we did well as a county getting through and dealing with the two floods as well as the blizzard these past couple of years. I’m real proud of that. Not to knock the state, but I feel like we as a county took the lead in all three. I don’t know how many years out until we get everything completed – probably about three years, as long as we don’t have any more flood events.
“My hat is off to Assistant County Manager Kenny Rayroux, Debra Hicks of Pettigrew & Associates, and Public Works Director Ray Romero. Those individuals worked hard day in and day out to get that FEMA assistance.”