Area battles flood woes

Bobby Jimenez bales water away from his home Wednesday evening south of the intersection of Curry Road 7 and H. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor

At the edge of what became a 30-acre swamp southeast of Clovis, Troy Johnson waded through his sunken living room where a pair of boots and a single shoe drifted in shin-high water.

His home, his garage and his front and back yards were still under water on Thursday, more than 36 hours after 3 inches of rain poured down roads onto his and his neighbor’s property at the southeast corner of Curry Road Seven and Curry Road H, about two miles south of Clovis.

Johnson’s neighbors didn’t fare much better. Most of the homes still had water up to the doorsteps late Thursday. A resident’s fishing boat — which he tried to use to rescue his livestock after the rains, residents said — was floating in his back yard.

“I won’t go through this again,” Johnson told Curry County Commissioner Albin Smith, who was at his home Thursday surveying the damage.

Johnson is one of three or four county residents and a couple of city residents whose home took in water because of the extensive rains early in the week.

Assistant City Manager Joe Thomas said flooding also occurred in the Remuda Subdivision on the northeast part of town, where one resident’s basement took in water and another person’s garage experienced some flooding.

“There’s never been any drainage in that subdivision; the division used to be in the county and was annexed into city limits,” Thomas said.

He said a roughly $60,000 retention pond will be built in the area, 80 percent of which will be city funded and the rest by the subdivision’s developer.

“The rains hit before the retention pond got built; that basically is the problem,” Thomas said.

County residents residing on Curry Road H say flood water came pouring from the north, west and east, and were critical of city and county channels they say are supposed to funnel the water to retention ponds and away from their property.

City officials contend barrow ditches worked properly in diverting water from the west, from Kimberly Lane to Ingram Lake, and it was simply the massive amount of rain — Clovis averages less than 18 inches of moisture per year — that caused flooding in the low-lying areas.

But residents contend the ditch, which channels water to the lake that comes from South Prince Street, was so overgrown with weeds that the water continued to flow east then south on Curry Road H to the homes.

Residents also contend a drainage culvert at Curry Road G and Curry Road Seven east of their homes was backed up with sand and couldn’t channel water fast enough to the south. The water consequently flowed west to their homes.

After seeing the culvert Thursday, Smith said the culvert was backed up and was insufficient given the massive rainfall.

“This side of town, culverts work less because it’s too sandy,” Smith said. “North of town, there’s more clay and they work much better.”

Smith, who described the rain as a 25-year, 24-hour flood, said he will discuss with the county commission ways to prevent future flooding in the area.

Even so, Smith said it will be difficult to do anything about water coming from the city, where Curry County Road Superintendent Danny Davis said much of the flood water came from.

Davis said with rains as hard as Tuesday’s, it’s difficult to prevent flooding, no matter the drainage.

“I hate it but I don’t have the answer,” Davis said. “Nobody in public office wants any house to get flooded.”

Thomas said most of the flood water came as a result of the clogged culvert east of the homes.

“For 20 years the city blames the county and the county blames the city,” said Ron Young, a former resident of the area surveying the damage with Smith and residents on Thursday.

He said the last major flood in the area was in 1981, but that was before there was any drainage.
Even so, as a former resident of the low-lying area he feared rain.

“For 21 years every time it rained you’d think to yourself, ‘Are we going to flood tonight?’” Young said.

Young and Johnson’s neighbor Vivian Jimenez — her yard was under water but her home did not flood — were optimistic flooding could be prevented in the future.

“We just have to take little steps (to solve the problem). Little steps create big ones,” Jimenez said.

The Johnsons were able to salvage most of their furniture by moving it out of the saturated home on Wednesday.

But family members said they can’t receive flood insurance because they don’t live in a designated flood zone. Officials say there are no flood zones in the county.

“We’ve never seen it this bad,” said Lea Anne Johnson, Troy’s wife. “It just came too much, and too hard and too fast.”