The Sandoval County Commission issued an emergency/disaster declaration in the Jemez Corridor as a result of severe flooding Thursday. Friday, Sandoval County government officials warned travelers to be careful in the Jemez Valley as a flood warning from the National Weather Service remains in effect.

Warm temperatures continue to cause the rapid melting of snowpack, causing increased river flows.

The Jemez River is not yet flooding as of late Friday afternoon, but the melting of snowpack has caused the river to surge, presenting a danger to the community.

“Travelers are asked to exercise caution and not enter closed roadways or drive into floodwaters,” a county news release stated.

Sandoval County Manager Wayne Johnson spent part of Friday in Jemez assessing the situation and helping coordinate efforts between Jemez Pueblo and the Office of Emergency Management.

“We got fast water running; it receded a little bit today, but the weather forecast doesn’t look like it’s in our favor,” Johnson said. “There’s a little bit of rain going on now, which has helped cool the temperatures, which slows the melt. But if we get any substantial rain, then it’ll increase the melt and we’ll wind up with higher levels. The temperatures the last two days have been, I think, helpful to the situation. They’re still predicting that it will crest somewhere late Sunday, perhaps Monday. Our biggest problem at this point is we’re also expecting high temperatures on Monday, Tuesday next week and there’s a lot of snow still on the mountain. It could get worse.”

Johnson said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to sign an emergency declaration sometime Friday for the possible flooding of the river.

“It would open up money,” Johnson said of the emergency declaration: “$750,000 would be made available for mitigation of this operation.”

The flood warning is expected to continue through the weekend.

“We want to remind and caution the public of the water runoff that’s taking place at this time in the Jemez area,” Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office Lt. John Castaneda said. “The Sheriff’s Office is increasing patrols in these areas to help ensure safety to the local community and traveling public.”

Sandoval County’s Office of Emergency Management issued the following statement:
“Due to spring runoff, water is currently flooding over low-lying areas of State Highway 4 between San Ysidro and Jemez Springs and is impacting critical infrastructure in the area. Travelers to the area are asked to exercise caution and not enter closed roadways or drive into floodwaters. Please exercise caution around Sandoval County First Responders and the New Mexico Department of Transportation workers who are assessing damages and working to ensure the safety of residents. In addition, Sandoval County and local leaders urge residents and visitors to avoid floodwaters and to keep children, pets and livestock out of the water due to flooding at the wastewater treatment plant in Jemez Springs. Floodwaters may rise or fall throughout the day depending on snowmelt higher in the mountains so the county and state remind drivers to Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
Following its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) inter-agency meeting, the Sandoval County Office of Emergency Management announced that several public safety measures are being  initiated to mitigate issues caused by the Jemez Corridor flooding.
These measures include:
  •  Sandoval County Public Works is establishing a detour in the community of La Cueva, NM at San Antonio River Crossing on Hidden Valley Road south of Highway 126. This is a proactive effort as this bridge may be declared unsuitable for vehicular traffic.
  • Sandoval County Public Works has set up barrels at the Soda Dam area in the Village of Jemez on Highway 4 to discourage the public from getting too close to the river.
  • The U.S. Forest Service is closing all campgrounds and fishing access sites along Highway 4 between San Ysidro and the community of La Cueva.
  • The U.S. Forest Service reports that U.S. Forest Service Road 376 remains closed until further notice.
  • The wastewater treatment plant for the Village of Jemez Springs continues to operate by capturing wastewater that is then pumped out at the site and taken to another treatment facility. Residents in the Village of Jemez Springs can continue to use their bathroom facilities, and water conservation is encouraged to reduce the amount of water going to the plant. The wastewater treatment plant is in contact with environmental agencies regarding this operation.
  • Sandbags are available for pick-up at fire stations along Highway 4 at San Ysidro, Jemez Springs, and the community of La Cueva.
  • While businesses remain open, residents and visitors are encouraged to be safe and mindful of current roadway and low-lying area conditions as they go about their day. Be advised that there is no parking along Highway 4 from U.S. 550 to MM 34.