Heavy rain, flash flooding prompt evacuations in New Mexico

LAS VEGAS, NEW MEXICO — Heavy rain and flash flood warnings in the U.S. state of New Mexico prompted officials to order mandatory evacuations Saturday, with shelters set up for displaced residents.

The National Weather Service announced a flash flood emergency on Friday night through early Saturday. The impacted areas included the city of Las Vegas and communities near Albuquerque.

Up to 5 centimeters (2 inches) of rain had fallen by late Friday, with additional rainfall up to 3.8 centimeters (1.5 inches) expected overnight, the weather service said.

There was flash flooding with multiple road closures on the north and west sides of Las Vegas, the weather service said.

The Las Vegas municipal government announced mandatory evacuations of parts of the city in social media posts, warning residents to prepare for overnight stays. The city said it established shelters for residents on the west and east sides of the city.

The city government asked residents to limit nonessential water use, while also clarifying that online rumors suggesting the city’s dams had broken were false and that the dams “are currently intact.”

New Mexico also suffered devastating wildfires this week that killed at least two people and forced thousands to flee from the flames. The South Fork and Salt fires in south-central New Mexico destroyed or damaged an estimated 1,400 structures. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham planned to tour the disaster area Saturday.

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