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Four Elderly People Saved by National Guard in N.M. Floods

As of Sunday evening, the National Guard had helped 45 people in flooded areas as it conducts multiple rescue operations at once, a National Guard spokesman said. A handful of those were elderly Ruidoso residents.

U.S. Army National Guard
The National Guard helped pour more than 250,000 gallons of water on the Rim Fire in California in 2013. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Paul Wade
(TNS) - Floods are continuing in and around Ruidoso, which has caused people to evacuate and others to be stranded in water-filled homes.

On Sunday afternoon, people in mobile homes off U.S. Highway 70 in Ruidoso and Ruidoso Downs had to be evacuated, Lincoln County emergency management specialist Michael Scales told the Journal.

"There are a lot of folks stranded in their vehicles," he said. "At this point, we're still doing some (rescues) and sheltering of folks."

Rain chances are expected for the next several days, National Weather Service of Albuquerque meteorologist Clay Anderson said.

"Even just a stray shower could cause flooding in the Ruidoso area due to the burn scars," he said. "Anything more than a 0% chance of rain down there is a threat."

"We got some tired guys already, but we're still on the job," Scales said.

The incident caused the New Mexico Army National Guard to deploy five light medium tactical vehicles with rescue teams on board.

As of Sunday evening, the National Guard has helped 45 people in flooded areas as it conducts multiple rescue operations at once, National Guard spokesman Hank Minitrez said.

A handful of those were elderly Ruidoso residents, who were rescued from their home by six National Guard soldiers on Saturday.

Members of the Guard's 920th Engineer Company were moving their heavy equipment out of a nearby creek — where they had been removing debris from a culvert — when four people signaled their distress, Minitrez said.

A team comprised of Sgt. Carlos Mendoza, Spc. Charles Ingraham, Pfc. Daniel Daly and Sgt. Nathan Lugo-Avalos created safety lines out of ratchet straps while Staff Sgt. David Perez and Spc. Roberto Velediaz crossed the rising water, making their way to the four people at the Innsbrook Village Country Club & Resort.

Perez and Velediaz were able to carry all four of them safely from the home to higher ground. Several minutes later, the water level reached more than six feet as it rushed into the now evacuated home, Minitrez said.

"I am glad we were able to get them in a safe spot," Mendoza told the Journal.

"I'm proud of our soldiers for acting so quickly to save lives in what was a dangerous situation," NM National Guard's Adjutant General Miguel Aguilar said. "This is what we train for and have a lot of experience in. I'm just thankful we were there to help our fellow New Mexicans in their time of need."

On Thursday, soldiers from the 920th received training from FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue, which taught them how to use ropes and straps to create a lifeline for flood rescues, Minitrez said.

"Training that couldn't have come at a better time," he said.

The New Mexico National Guard has had a team of Soldiers and Airmen in Ruidoso since the beginning of the wildfires, assisting with traffic control points, moving tons of debris with heavy equipment and distributing much needed donations from agencies and organizations across the state.

"We'd like to thank the residents of Ruidoso, specifically, the Innsbrook Village Country Club, for their appreciation and hospitality to us and first responders," Mendoza said.

©2024 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.