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Heavy floods damage homes, cemetery in Berino, N.M.

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Sep 20 2013 09:27:45 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 21 2014 07:53:42 PM CDT

ABC-7's Vanessa de la Vina reports.

BERINO, N.M. -

Residents in Berino, N.M., were shocked when water flooded through the area. Heavy floods damaged parts of the town, including a cemetery.

One woman stood over the grave site of her nephew. She couldn't believe the damage.

Another woman cried over the grave sites of her father and aunt; both were caved in from the flood.

"(The) cemetery and the church are the backbone of the community. When something like this happens it breaks your spirit," said Arturo Alvarado, a resident of Berino.

Flowers and tombstones were scattered throughout the cemetery. The water even took down a cinder-block wall, dragging the blocks across the street.

Houses were also flooded. Families stayed up all night cleaning out feet of water from inside their homes.

One man said his personal belongings were floating through the house.

A dam just outside of the town was supposed to keep the water from going out into the community. Debris clogged up the concrete inlets, causing the water to overflow over the side of the dam and out into the community.

"It looks like there was an abundance of water and the lower side of the dam overflowed. There was never a dam failure but it overflowed the dam," said Robert Monsivaiz, the Doña Ana County fire marshal.

Residents were frustrated the dam didn't keep the water away.

"The dam the county built was supposed to keep us safe and evidently it didn't happen," Alvarado said.

On Friday morning, Monsivaiz estimated about 10 homes were damaged. He is still assessing the damage.

The town is holding an emergency meeting on Saturday for residents affected by the flood. It will be held at the Mission Betel Church at 9 a.m.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter in Vado. They are asking for volunteers and donations. For more information on volunteering, call Carolyn Ross at (575) 639-2655. To donate money, call Rebecca Sellars at (575) 639-2650.

Donations are being accepted at the Parish Hall of Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church in La Union or at the home of Dona Ana County Public Information Director Jess Williams at 518 N. Miranda St in Las Cruces.

The Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Department is accepting donations of shovels, bleach, disinfectant wipes, mops, detergent and electric skillets for distribution to homes that had water damage or where natural-gas service has been disrupted.

In addition to cleaning supplies and electrical skillets, people in La Union and Berino need shovels to help them relocate dirt and debris that washed onto their properties.

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