The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Joe Siess
Staff writer 

Heavy rains flood Portales


Last updated 5/18/2021 at 3:01pm

Courtesy Justin Cole

Lilly Saiz, left, and Mariana Jimenez pose in front of the Roosevelt Brewing Co. on the Portales square downtown.

After months with little more than sprinkles, most of the region has welcomed significant rainfall the past few days — and more may be on the way.

Portales and Roosevelt County had the greatest blessings/curses, especially mid-afternoon on Saturday when a slow-moving storm dumped more than 2 inches on everything in site. Some rural areas reported more than 4 inches of rain, a lot of it coming in less than an hour, flooding streets and washing cars away. Marble-size hail destroyed gardens and flower beds getting an early start on the summer.

Areas of standing water remained on Monday, prompting the Portales Police Department to warn area residents to “please avoid the areas of heavy water flow if you have to be out. There are still areas of standing water in the lower areas. If you see heavy water please turn around, don’t endanger yourselves.”

Bryan Niece, a senior research assistant at the Ag Science Center north of Clovis, reported the center received just 1.63 inches of rain from September through April. May has been wetter for most of the region, but Saturday was by far the rainiest day in months.

The National Weather Service reported Portales saw 2.72 inches of rain in parts of the city, while a rancher near Milnesand reported 4.25 inches of rain on Saturday afternoon. Other parts of Roosevelt County reported 2-3 inches of moisture Saturday.

Texico reported a half-inch on Saturday, while Clovis saw about a quarter of an inch. Muleshoe had 2.2 inches of rain from Friday through Monday, NWS reported.

Rainfall chances are less than 30 percent the next few days, but the National Weather Service warned “rounds of afternoon showers and thunderstorms will continue across the eastern plains Friday through even Monday.”

Saturday storm clearly ‘not normal’

Mary Ayala is dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Eastern New Mexico University. She said the Saturday downpour started soon after she got home following the university’s graduation ceremony, a weather extreme in the other direction with temperatures in the 80s, little to no cloud cover and a turf that retains heat.

“We live on Main (Street) and it often floods when we have rain. Between the constant hail and rising waters, though, it was clearly not ‘normal,’” Ayala said. “While the street often floods, it doesn’t usually come up onto our lawn or up the driveway to the house.”

Ayala said the den and her home office took on rain water, made worse by vehicles on the street trying to drive by.

“We had a shop vac running to pull up the water and we were bailing for about four hours,” she said. “The yard is full of debris from trees all over the neighborhood.”

Ayala said drainage in the city is always slow after a big rain, but “it usually fills some streets and then recedes in a bit. This time the flooding and damage seemed to be everywhere.

“People had roof leaks, flooding in their homes, stranded cars, and destroyed gardens. I don’t know anyone in town who wasn’t impacted one way or another,” Ayala said.

But Ayala said she and her family are safe, and that their home will be fine.

“Very little was ruined, thank God. And after all that water and hard work, my floors are particularly clear. I guess that is my silver lining,” she said.

Safety priority for eatery owner

Justin Cole, who operates the Roosevelt Brewing Co. in Portales, said streets on the downtown square were still flooded at 7 p.m. Saturday and “cars are stranded all over town.”

Cole closed his restaurant at the height of the storm.

“Some employees couldn’t make it to work and there were some other weather-related things, so we just decided to close for the safety of our workers and our customers,” he said.

Jim Constantopoulos, a geology professor at Eastern New Mexico University, said he’s lived in Portales 32 years. He said Saturday’s downpour was “probably the second worst (rain) storm I’ve seen here.”

Constantopoulos said his recently planted garden was destroyed Saturday, along with flowers his wife Amiee had just planted. Marble-size hail still covered their yard at 7:30 p.m.

“It just came down like hell,” he said. “Our front yard still looks like it snowed.”


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