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Storm cleanup slow in parts of Socorro

By Matthew Smith, Good Morning El Paso Weekend Anchor / Reporter
Published On: Sep 20 2013 09:07:50 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 02:04:04 PM CST

ABC-7s Matthew Smith reports.

EL PASO, Texas -

The cleanup from last week’s storms is wrapping up in most of El Paso County. In Socorro, the difficult decisions and cleanup are just beginning.

Sussana Snowden spent Friday digging out her home from a mountain of hardening mud. Snowden lives in a house on Coker Road a stone's throw from North Loop Road. The homes a quarter-mile up the road look the same as they always have. Snowden’s bedroom has a foot of mud caked on the floor, making it almost necessary to duck when you enter her room.

Snowden, and a handful of her neighbors, suffered the brunt of last weekend’s storm damage. An arroyo above their homes was damaged. When rains came on Thursday Snowden’s grandson noticed the water. He went to move his mother’s car.  Nearly 30 seconds later mud was crashing into the family home.

“I don’t know if they’re going to do anything,” said Snowden in reference to the city of Socorro. “I don’t see any movement.”

While families like Snowden’s suffer, the city of Socorro is in a tough situation themselves. Municipalities can’t send their crews into homes because they're private property. This week the Socorro City Council announced a local disaster declaration. That declaration signals nonprofits for help, but it doesn’t do much else.

Snowden, along with her three children and three grandchildren, are stuck cleaning up their home without any extra help.

Recently a group of Baptist church volunteers showed up to do what’s called “mud-out.” All day Thursday and Friday they used small construction machinery to dig homes out. Scottie Sites said homeowners go through a grief stage at first.

“Now, they’re in survivor mode,” said Sites. “That’s when you see them welcome us in and asking for help.”

Once they clear enough space they go to work with buckets and shovels. The work is grueling, but they know it well. Last week they helped around 500 homeowners in another part of Texas, next week they expect to be doing the same work in Colorado.

Volunteers may be the only ones helping anytime soon. As ABC-7 has previously reported, it would take upward of $25 million worth of home damage to get FEMA to announce disaster aide. Typically that type of aide is reserved for large-spread damages. According to Stiles, the last area they worked with saw more than 500 damaged homes, and they didn’t qualify for FEMA aid. The group has only taken 25 work orders for the Socorro area.

Still, county leaders continue to tally damage totals in hopes to get some help. There is hope that some type of low-interest loans could be made available for those who were hit the hardest.

“It’s hard, for those people who live in these areas there is no question it is a disaster,” said county commissioner Vince Perez.

Everything helps, but some families simply won’t be in a position to take on loans. Snowden told ABC-7 that she won’t be looking into an apartment because it’d be too expensive. She said she’ll have to do her best to clean-up the storm damaged home.

“I don’t have anything to pay rent with,” said Snowden, who is retired. “I prefer to clean my house and start living in the same place with my kids again."

Snowden sounds upset when she explains her situation, but she doesn’t cry. According to her, she doesn’t have time to cry anymore. It’s been more than a week since the storm struck Socorro, she’s worried that time is running out. A makeshift shelter at Socorro High School has been home for a week, however she expects it to close on Tuesday.

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