Mayor concerned about spring snowmelt in New Mexico |

Mayor concerned about spring snowmelt in New Mexico

AZTEC, N.M. (AP) ” Aztec Mayor Mike Arnold says he is worried about flooding in the spring when melting snow swells the Animas River that runs through town.

“My biggest fear is the terrific number of mobile homes that are built in the river bottom in the Cedar Hill area,” he said.

“There are hundreds of mobile homes near the river and their owners have put themselves in peril,” Arnold said.

The snowpack in the San Juan Mountains north of Aztec stands at 160 percent of normal, compared with about 130 percent of normal in 2005, when spring flooding hit the town of 6,378 people.

Arnold said three bridges in town “would make great dikes” if mobile homes floated downstream and jammed under the spans.

The town would be cut in two if high water forced closure of the bridges.

“We are well aware of the problem,” Arnold said.

He said he has been in constant contact with Don Cooper, San Juan County’s emergency preparedness director.

Cooper has advised people living along the river to create dikes between the waterway and structures and to plan where to go when the water rises.

“Only the man in the sky knows what kind of snow melt we’ll have this year, but people who have had problems in the past are likely to have them this year,” Cooper said.

The river’s course changes year-to-year, and the water will find the path of least resistance, he said.

“The river is continually moving,” Cooper said. “The damage it did on one side last year affects what happens this year.”

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