July 29, 2008 / 7:12 AM / 12 years ago

One killed, hundreds stranded by New Mexico flood

RUIDOSO, New Mexico (Reuters) - One man was killed and hundreds of people were stranded in the New Mexico mountain town of Ruidoso by flash floods triggered by the remnants of Hurricane Dolly.

An aerial view of a flooded sector of the border city of Matamoros after being hit by Hurricane Dolly July 24, 2008. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

The body of a man, believed to have been about 20, was found on Monday morning near the Rio Ruidoso after he was swept away by the flood Sunday night, Ruidoso Fire Department spokeswoman Darlene Hart said.

Hart said that no one else has been reported missing but that about 400 people fled from homes, camps and recreational vehicles, as the water rose. Many of those people were being sheltered at local churches.

Another 200 people who had been camping in the forests near the town were cut off by the floods. There had been no reports of injuries but rescuers were going to try to drop food and water to them by helicopter, Hart said.

The deluge also destroyed 12 bridges in the area, all on secondary or residential streets. U.S. Highway 70 and New Mexico Highway 48 were still open Monday.

About 60 homes were flooded, according to the office of Gov. Bill Richardson, who was scheduled to visit the area Monday afternoon.

The Ruidoso Downs Race Track in the nearby town of Ruidoso Downs was also partially flooded, causing cancellation of races there, according to the track’s website.

The flooding began after about nine inches of rain fell Friday and Saturday, Hart said.

The Rio Ruidoso surged from its seasonal average of 4 feet

to 12 feet on Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported on its website.

“I don’t think anything like this has ever happened here in at least the last 40 years,” Hart said.

More rain was possible in the area Monday afternoon.

Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jackie Frank

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