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Calls for help after museum gets flooded

August 6, 2018

El Rancho de las Golondrinas, the rural living history museum in La Cienega, took it on the chin in the great July 23 flood, as did many in the low-lying area southwest of Santa Fe.

A 25-foot wall of water swept through the 200-acre rancho, flooding its popular performance areas and destroying fences, trees and a foot bridge that connected the upper and lower sections of the ranch. The museum’s centuries-old acequia has been cut off, director of development Kathryn Ann Carey said, imperiling the crops that are used for educational programs and the museum’s annual harvest festival.

The nonprofit that operates the museum on Friday issued an urgent call for donations to help rebuild from the damage and also clear a significant logjam of debris that threatens to worsen any additional floods, adding to the group of individual fundraisers and pleas for assistance to come from the La Cienega area since the floodwaters first rushed through last week.

“It’s going to take heavy-duty equipment, a heavy crane, things like that, to get it cleared out,” Carey said. “We don’t have the money or the manpower to do that. It’s going to be expensive.”

Carey added none of the museum’s animals were lost, and no buildings were damaged. The museum is at least partly open, she said, after staff and contractors worked to remove some of the debris in the immediate aftermath.

“That ran us about $3,000,” she said. “But it’s going to cost a lot more than that.”

A number of La Cienega residents appeared before the Santa Fe County Commission this week to describe the damage to their property at great length and plead their case for more assistance. Commissioners told residents they were waiting for Gov. Susana Martinez to possibly request a formal federal disaster declaration, which could free up federal resources, and several expressed frustration with what they said was their inability to rally cleanup funds quicker.

Indeed, some La Cienega residents such as Amata Boccella, whose home was classified as “destroyed” by damage assessment teams, are still struggling to restore a sense of normalcy and bail out the water. A GoFundMe in the name of Boccella’s sheep sanctuary has raised more than $8,600, but, as her friend Michael Nunally said, more help is still needed.

“Amata still has to live [in her house] as she has nowhere to go,” he wrote in an email. “She has to be there for the animals.”

HOW TO HELP

The nonprofit living history museum southwest of Santa Fe has requested donations to help with its flood remediation efforts. Donations marked “flood damage” can be sent to El Rancho de las Golondrinas, 334 Los Pinos Road, Santa Fe, NM, 87507.

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