Recent rain gets mixed reviews

Argen Duncan

The recent abundant rains have been both a help and a hindrance to area residents.

The downpours have damaged roads and made weeds grow. But they’ve also watered crops and urban grass.

In Portales, City Manager Tom Howell said parts of streets where water has pooled will need patching. He said he wouldn’t know the extent of the damage until the repairs were done.

“It’s not quite as bad as in the winter,” Howell said.

Curry County Road Superintendent Chris Pacheco said he’d seen minor damage to some roads, but others needed the moisture so crews could work on them without having to haul water.

“So it can be a blessing and it can be a curse at the same time,” he said of the precipitation.

The money saved by having the rain dampen roads that needed to be worked offsets the cost of repairs, Pacheco said.

For Roosevelt County, Road Department Supervisor Ricky Lovato said he’d brought in about 250 tons of caliche at $5.50 a ton to repair wash-outs and other county road damage Wednesday and he expected to bring in more Thursday.

However, Lovato said that was the first major damage he’d seen this year.

In Clovis, Public Works Director Clint Bunch said he’d seen significant problems with city streets. He estimated that road repair costs were up by a third and were taking a lot of extra time.

“It’s not only affecting our streets, it’s also affecting our alleys,” Bunch continued.

The water makes alleys soft so vehicles create ruts that need fixing. The expenses for alley repairs are also up by a third, he said.

Bunch said wet alleys could also force sanitation crews to sometimes skip a day picking up trash because they had to wait for the areas to dry.

The moisture also slows work in parks, Howell said, but keeps the city from having to pay for as much irrigation. In Clovis, water use is down across the city, Bunch said.

Both he and Pacheco agreed the rain made it more difficult to keep weeds down.

“Just like homeowners are having a hard time keeping up with theirs, we’re having a hard time keeping up with ours,” Bunch said.

Pacheco said his crews had shredded 200 miles or more of weeds in the last two weeks and he expected the pace to continue.

For farmers, heavy rain can also help or hinder.

Dee Brown, who farms in the northeast corner of Roosevelt County, said his land received only light showers this year until Tuesday, when 1.75 inches fell.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” he said.

Brown said the precipitation did nothing but good to his corn, cotton, peanuts and paprika peppers. It allowed him to turn off his irrigation wells for a few days, he said.

However, Curry County farmer Frank Blackburn said recently that heavy rain can slow work in fields because equipment can’t get in through the water and mud. Wheat must be dry to go to a grain elevator.