At a community meeting Monday evening in Cliff, residents heard updates on efforts to prevent or mitigate the possibly of catastrophic flooding as a result of the Whitewater-Baldy Fire Complex. This is part two of the report of that meeting.

The last speaker before the question and answer session was Adam Offutt of the Drinking Water Bureau of the state Environment Department. He offered packets of information on disinfecting private water wells and septic systems.

Al Koss, Whitewater-Baldy Burned Area Emergency Response public information officer, said several handouts were available, including on how to prepare pets and animals and a checklist for families for evacuation.

The first question posed was if Gila Valley residents were going to get sandbags, as Glenwood has.

Gilbert Helton, Grant County Emergency Management officer, said the county is in the process of getting sandbags to "this location. Homeland Security will buy bagging machines. If we need them now, we will get them in Glenwood. Yes, we will have them, but it's not clear where and how many."

Resident J.T. Hollimon asked how big a flow is anticipated.

Koss said the modeling for the Gila River is not completed, because the priority was the modeling for the areas to the north that will be most impacted by the severely burned areas.

"We will get the information, but we don't feel there will be a major flood in the area, because there is a much larger area to carry the water," Koss said. "You will see black water, ash and logs. We are working on modeling this area and hope to have it by the end of the week. In Mogollon and on the headwaters of the Gila River, we will do seeding."

Hollimon also asked if anything could be done to protect private property.

Anthony Gutierrez, Grant County planner, said he believes the county can ask for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect property.

"As an individual, you can get a permit," Gutierrez said. "I will help with the permitting with the Corps, because of the state of emergency. We are trying to stay out of the water to prevent having to go back in and do mitigation."

A resident asked what the penalty is to do work without a permit.

"I don't know," Gutierrez said. "I'm trying to stay away from that situation. The waters belong to the U.S. government. If you are in imminent danger, you can do maintenance on your property, but only above the high water mark."

A resident asked where information that the Forest Service will give to residents is available and who it will come from.

Koss said the flow models are on inciweb.org.

Another resident asked about the Christian Center Bridge.

"The Department of Transportation is permitting for removal of vegetation in Duck Creek," Gutierrez replied. "I don't think the Christian Center Bridge is in danger. Duck Creek headwaters were less burned. Otherwise, the estimate is for high to very high flows on the river."

A resident who lives on Duck Creek reported it had built back up with vegetation and debris following a prior cleanup.

Gutierrez said an easement is needed in order to address the issue.

Another resident pointed out that the two fires, this year's Whitewater-Baldy and last year's Miller Fire, would affect the Gila River.

"We are working on keeping the water from going around the bridges," Gutierrez said. "We're trying to do as much as we can as quick as we can."

A resident said he heard the government was worried about the birds and the fish. "Duck Creek is right above here; Rain Creek sits on top of Sacaton. We'll have a major flood. It's horrific in my mind. This community is facing a big flood."

"I feel your frustration," Gutierrez said. "But we don't have, all of us combined, what comes from the federal government."

A resident asked if the monitors that will be put in are to measure precipitation.

"Yes," Koss said. "They will measure how much and the duration of the event. The information will go directly to the National Weather Service and alerts will go out. We will know how much is in the high country. The information will go through the National Weather Service to the Sheriff and then to Reverse 911 (which was discussed in a prior article)."

He said the information is sent through satellites and can come to a personal computer.

A representative from the Santa Teresa National Weather Station said the service will partner with BAER and will monitor in real time, so it can respond immediately to Dispatch. "As soon as we see the threshold met, we will notify Dispatch. At this point, we're only seeing isolated storms. We are not expecting rain for the next week or two. This is the time to do mitigation."

"We issue flash flood warnings," he said. "If you monitor the National Weather Service website, you will get the alert immediately. We have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio on Jacks Peak. That would be your most immediate alert."

Koss said a weather spotter training would be set up in Glenwood, so people can get the information on their computers.

A resident asked what the impact would be on the water table.

Koss said he would have to get back to her on the question. "But I do know that you have to be careful the flood waters do not contaminate your wells."

Live from Silver City

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

The Grant County Beat endeavors to post to the Elections page, under News, at the least, notices of candidates for Grant County races. Some candidates for statewide races have also sent their notices. 

The Beat continues to bring you new columnists.Recent additions  include the Christian Corner, for those who are already Christians or are exploring the beliefs.

The second is a business-centered column—Your Business Connection by the New Mexico Business Coalition. The group works to make policy in the state of New Mexico better for all businesses, large and small.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers!  


All articles and photos indicated by a byline are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ad on the Beat.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com, if you notice any problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

If you subscribe to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Note: This is another component that is in progress of going to a different software to make it easier for you to use and find classifieds that interest you. Check Out Classifieds. And look at Sponsors to see who is helping the Beat.

It's really easy to check to see if there's a classified ad. Just click on Classifieds in the blue menu and the page will open letting you know if there is a classified ad. Remember that your buying classified ads gives you a wide readership, as well as supporting the Beat. Post YOURS for quick results!

Note that if an article does not have a byline, it was sent to the Beat and written by someone not affiliated with the Beat

When you click on the blue and orange button on the upper left side of most pages, you will find out how you can help the Beat defray its expenses, which, with increased readership, continue to grow. You will arrive at a page that gives you options of how you can Help the Beat. All help is greatly appreciated and keeps the news you want and need coming into your browser.

Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com