Santa Fe, NM – Earlier today, Governor Lujan Grisham signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Catron County. This order aims to provide local governments with the tools and funding they need to begin recovering from the thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, and severe flooding that impacted the county in late July of this year. Like similar declarations for Lincoln, Chaves, Valencia, Eddy, Doña Ana, Mora, and Rio Arriba counties, this order provides up to $750,000 for the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) to support public recovery efforts organized by city and county officials.
In this instance, the state constitution does not allow state emergency funds to be used for direct financial assistance to private individuals.
This declaration also means that affected localities within the county could also be eligible for state assistance. Additionally, state emergency declarations authorize the Adjutant General to activate the New Mexico National Guard for necessary support and direct all cabinet departments to assist with a statewide response.
In a joint statement, Catron County Emergency Manager Dusty Choate and County Commission Chairperson Anita Hand said, “Catron County is a very rural and remote county. Flooding issues impact not only the day-to-day lives of residents, but also emergency access to those said residents. With our road infrastructure being primarily dirt and gravel, flooding issues cause a major disruption in our road, travel, and emergency service system. With our limited personnel and equipment, the flood events during late July and early August went above and beyond the capabilities of our local government. With funding from the State of New Mexico, we will be able to repair the roads and infrastructure to the adequate and appropriate state in which they need to be. The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has been a great asset in assisting Catron County with our emergency.”
“Our department has been coordinating with emergency managers and other officials in Catron County since this disaster began,” said DHSEM Secretary Bianca Ortiz-Wertheim. “This declaration is a major step in the county’s recovery, providing the funds they need to repair damaged roadways, culverts, public buildings, and other infrastructure that the people of Catron County rely on.”
DHSEM works to protect the people of New Mexico and the nation through a comprehensive and coordinated program of mitigating hazards, preparing for emergencies, preventing attacks, and recovering from disasters. The New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office is part of DHSEM beginning on July 1, 2021.