RUIDOSO, N.M. Flooding caused by torrential rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Dolly kept hundreds of evacuees away from their homes and campgrounds Monday, authorities said.
The body of a man reported missing during the flooding was found Monday.
The National Weather Service posted flash flood watches Monday across much of eastern New Mexico. The sun broke through Monday morning, but isolated thunderstorms were forecast throughout the week.
The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said up to 9 inches of rain had fallen since Friday in the mountainous area around Ruidoso, in south-central New Mexico.
The Rio Ruidoso was still running high and muddy Monday, with water flowing over roads in low-lying areas. A main thoroughfare in the center of Ruidoso, Paradise Canyon Road, was partially washed away, and two mud-covered mobile homes sat askew, washed off their foundations.
An estimated 350 to 500 houses, campers, mobile homes and structures were damaged by the flooding that struck early Sunday, authorities said. Ruidoso's business district was largely untouched, with most of the damaged bridges and roads in residential areas.
Public officials said 300 to 500 people were evacuated from homes, a campground and a recreational vehicle park after the Rio Ruidoso went over its banks early Sunday, and they were still unable to return early Monday.
"If Noah'd been around, it would have been good to build an ark," said state Department of Public Safety spokesman Peter Olson.
Authorities on Monday found the body of a 20-year-old man reported swept away by high water Sunday, said Darlene Hart, a spokeswoman for the state of New Mexico. Earlier, two people had been reported swept away, but Hart said authorities had no definite information Monday on any other missing persons.
She said an unknown number of people remained stranded because of washed out roads and bridges, but that some had told authorities they didn't want to leave.
Nine bridges were reported under water and several roads were closed, but U.S. 70, the area's main highway, was reopened Monday, authorities said.
Tom Schafer, Ruidoso's emergency management coordinator, said there were 25 water rescues Sunday, mostly from vehicles but a few from homes. "A lot of people were trying to get through in deep water areas and they got stuck," he said.
National Guard helicopter crews rescued about two dozen campers stranded by high water, Schafer said.
However, some campers remained stranded. "They had to hunker down last night" to await rescue Monday, he said.
In Texas, the weather service said some areas of El Paso got as much as 3 inches of rain during the weekend and city officials said they received 17 reports of flooding in homes.