Much of New Mexico is under flood watch after 100 rescued from waters over weekend

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Weather forecasters warned Monday that much of New Mexico faces two more days of elevated threats of dangerous flooding like the walls of water over the weekend that caused severe damage, forced the rescues of 100 people and left parts of one town recently ravaged by wildfires covered in mud and debris.

The body of one person was recovered from the Rio Grande in Albuquerque on Sunday, but it wasn't immediately clear if the death was flood related, according to Albuquerque Fire Rescue and Bernalillo County Fire Rescue. The death remained under investigation and no other details had been released.

Most of central New Mexico remained under a flood watch into Tuesday, including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Vegas and Ruidoso.

“Very few parts of the state have been immune from the impacts,” said Daniel Porter, the senior meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Albuquerque. "Unfortunately the threat is most likely to continue to be really elevated for the next couple of days, at least through Wednesday,” he told reporters during a briefing Monday.

The threat should briefly subside on Thursday for the Fourth of July, but begin to ramp up again by the weekend, Porter said.

The downpours have caused the most damage in areas of New Mexico where wildfires have left mountainside void of trees, brush and grass -- including in northern New Mexico where a historic blaze burned through numerous communities in 2022 and in the village of Ruidoso where residents were forced to flee fast-moving flames just weeks ago.

“Some of the damage I saw was really, just genuinely shocking. Some of it just took your breath away,” said Andrew Mangham, the weather service's senior hydrologist said Monday after visiting some of the hardest hit areas on Sunday.

"Just absolutely complete devastation" in parts of Ruidoso, he said.

There have been no reports of any serious injuries.

National Guard spokesman Hank Minitrez confirmed troops had assisted over the weekend in the rescue of at least 100 people stranded by flood waters in vehicles or otherwise, mostly in the Ruidoso area,

Ruidoso Mayor Lynn Crawford said he’d “never seen anything like that.”

“It was insane,” he told KRUI Radio on Monday.

Ruidoso spokesperson Kerry Gladden said there had been 26 swift water rescues in their village alone on Saturday and 51 on Sunday.

“We were incredibly lucky we did not have any injuries. We didn’t have to transport anyone to the hospital,” she said. She said they had no immediate estimate on flood damage.

“That will take days,” she said late Monday.

The Albuquerque Police Department headquarters and City Hall both suffered flood damage over the weekend, Mayor Tim Keller said Sunday.

According to the National Weather Service, quarter-sized hail and 60 mph (97 kph) wind hit the Albuquerque area late Saturday night.

Heavy rain from a severe thunderstorm brought flash flooding to many parts of the city and downed power poles, leaving up to 20,000 residents without electricity for hours.

Keller said basements of City Hall and the Albuquerque police flooded, but there was no immediate damage estimate.