City estimates years to fix Albuquerque neighborhood flood problem

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque has already seen more rain than usual, and it’s about to see even more in the coming months. That has people in one neighborhood dreading every drop, and they want the city to do something about their flooding problem fast.

One rainstorm in May did lots of damage to a property in northeast Albuquerque west of San Mateo. “The storm swallows our property in under three minutes,” explained Sasha Patton. “Once it starts, it happens so fast.”

Storm drains in Sasha’s neighborhood quickly clog, creating problems for more than a dozen neighbors.

“This yard’s underwater, that yard’s under water into their garage, that yard’s under water into their garage,” Tess Houle told KRQE News 13, pointing to several homes nearby. She said several people suffer flood damages after a single storm.

Three blocks down from Sasha’s street, the road in front of Tess’ home looks like a lake during a heavy rain storm.

“We can’t continue to flood year after year like this,” said Sasha.

Officials with Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development said changes need to happen underground, to make water lines bigger.

“We have to make sure that the funding is in place, this project is estimated at about $1 million,” said Melissa Lozoya, Deputy Director of the Department of Municipal Development.

Once funding is approved, Lozoya said it could take another three years. “We know it’s a concern for them, it’s a concern for us, we do want to protect our citizens from flooding, so we’re always keeping an eye out,” Lozoya said.

Neighbors told KRQE News 13 three years is too long to wait. “Yeah that just makes me really nervous,” Tess said.

In the meantime, Lozoya said they did clean out the storm drain system, and installed speed table water blocks in a couple places, to try and divert water away from the homes that are flooding.

Residents claim it’s not enough. “We need more now,” said Sasha. “We need whatever other interim, temporary or permanent fixes that can be put into place to happen.”

To try and prevent another massive flood in her back yard, Sasha and her husband lined their house with sand bags, and cut a channel into their concrete porch to divert water. They modified walls to add holes, and added a slope near their house.

“It puts an unbelievable amount of stress on families,” Sasha explained. “It has easily been a 20-30 hour a week job for me and my husband, between the manual labor, emails, phone calls.”

Sasha created an informal survey and asked neighbors about their flooding problems. She received at least 13 completed forms, all from frustrated residents with the same issues.

Some of them are elderly, and can’t do as much for themselves, Sasha said. She learned many of her neighbors have complained about the problem for years.

“Many of those people have over the years contacted the city through all different means of communication and nothing has been done,” Sasha said. “It’s been five decades, 50 years of the city ignoring our neighborhood going under water.”

Sasha said between two major storms, she and her husband spent at least $4,000 to repair damages and modify their property.

She hopes the city can work quickly, before another storm does more destruction. “The sky is getting grey right now and my stomach is starting to hurt just thinking about it, every time it rains,” Sasha said.

Sasha said their normal homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding like this, so they had to get special flood insurance, which more than doubled their property insurance.

Lozoya said the GO bonds to up-size the underground pipes will be voted on in October. Then, the city will work with a consultant on a design to upgrade the system. She said they’ll continue to work with residents and monitor the neighborhood.

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