La Union Cleanup Continues As Residents Question Dam Failure

Sep 29, 2013

Ty Davis has lived in La Union his entire life.

He stayed as a firefighter and was here the day an earthen dam a few hundred yards from his fire station broke.

“It got more towards around noon, one o’clock when it broke.”

He said it wouldn’t have been that bad if the rain had stopped. But it didn’t.

“The rain still kept coming in…it was coming through here in the streets.”

It washed out the roads.

“We had to shut down water. We had to shut down gas…so nothing terrible could happen to La Union.”

Multiple sources tell KRWG News there were no serious injuries in this town of about 4500 people.

Driving through la union, on the sides of every one of the streets is mud that’s caked up and it’s even still wet to the touch.

That’s because county trucks are sweeping and wetting down the remaining dirt.

Jess Williams is the director of public information for Dona Ana County.

“The county’s main response is to fix the roads and to fix the dams…what we need help with now is to help the private residences because the county can’t legally help them other than to be a source for people to drop off donations or to help coordinate the relief effort.”

Williams filled up his own pickup truck with donations to take down to La Union.

Firefighter Ty Davis expressed what we heard from other residents…

“You could see over here at the cemetery all the graves are kind of moved…lot of people upset of that…and of course they’re mad at the county for not really motoring what happened with the dam.”

Jess Williams says ATV’s are to blame for the dam’s failure.

“What we think happened with that dam is that the water got up and it started flowing through some tracks that a four-wheeler had made over the top and once it started flowing through, it eroded…and that’s what caused the failure. So we are asking people not to drive four-wheelers on the dam because it can, in fact, corrode them.”

When KRWG News drove near the dam, we found what appeared to be ATV track ways along the edge of it. At the opening were tire tracks from county bulldozers working there.

Six million dollars in aid is expected to reach Dona Ana County’s office. Williams says it’s too early to know a final price tag on the recovery.

“We’ve already spent a lot of money to do what we’ve done…depleting our unanticipated natural disaster fund and…also looking at overtime to reimburse from those.”

When the cleanup is over, the dust may not settle for residents. Time will tell.

“The county can only do as much as they possibly can with what money they can give, so we’ll see what’s to come.”