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City Disaster History (In the 2000's)
Mar 19, 2000 Power outage. Statewide power outage -- smoke from a fire near Farmington shorted out major transmission lines. Telephone, cell phone and pager problems complicated recall and response. Power restored to Rio Rancho in less than 4 hours.
May 24, 2000 Drought. Mayor declared emergency and imposed ban on fireworks and open burning. Extreme dry conditions throughout the State; catastrophic wildfires elsewhere. County imposed similar restrictions. State emergency declaration of drought followed. (Unusually heavy October rains officially ended the drought.)
May 31, 2000 Water main break. A water main ruptured near Saratoga and Obregon Road. Minor damage to six homes and Enchanted Hills Middle School (school not in session).
Jul 12, 2000 Sewage spill. Mechanical malfunction allowed treated effluent to discharge into the Rio Grande. Estimated spill was 6,400 gallons (City) to 1,000,000 gallons (EPA). Required reports filed with Environmental Division and EPA. Repairs completed Jul 31. EPA enforcement actions initiated; City eventually cited by EPA and fined $27,500.
Sep 27, 2000 Domestic terrorism. Explosives and incendiary devices found in home in Rio Rancho; 16-year old subject was sophomore at Rio Rancho High School
Oct 30, 2000 Fixed site hazardous materials incident. Broken natural gas valve near 19th Avenue SE and Golf Course road required evacuation of nearby school and several businesses. No injuries.
Jan 27, 2001 Winter Storm. Huge storm blankets entire state with up to 36" new snow. Wind chills below zero. Rio Rancho has 6" snow, only minor traffic accidents.
Spring 2001 Census 2000 figures released; Rio Rancho population is reported to be 51,765.
Apr 10, 2001 Wind Storm/Dust Storm. Powerful storm has impacts statewide. Locally, winds gusting to 58 MPH damage roofs & fences; much tree damage throughout city. Blowing dust reduces visibility to near zero in some areas; a few minor traffic accidents.
Jun 13, 2001 Wildfire. Some 75 firefighters from 8 agencies including 12 from Rio Rancho, battled an arson fire in the bosque east of River's Edge III in Bernalillo; 15 acres burned. Winds 25-35 MPH, gusting to 45 MPH complicated firefighting efforts. No homes destroyed although 10 families did evacuate; no injuries.
Jun 13,2001 Multi-Casualty Incident. A commercial balloon got caught in strong winds as it landed and was dragged across the mesa northwest of Idalia Road and Highway 528. Five injured among nine on board.
Sep 14, 2001 Flash Flood. Heavy rains in Unit 17 cause a repeat of Jul-Aug 1999 damages. Estimated $100,000 cost to repair Barrancas Channel and surrounding area infrastructure.
Spring 2002 Drought. Extremely dry conditions led to earliest ever start of state wildfire season. County banned open burning and fireworks in April. Mayor declared emergency due to dry conditions May 22; declaration closed Rio Rancho Bosque, banned fireworks and prohibited open burning. City Council extended emergency June 12 for 30 days. State and federal declaration of drought followed.
May 21, 2002 Wind Storm/Dust Storm. Steady winds 25-25 MPH, gusts to 49 MPH, throughout the day. Extensive tree damage, numerous alarm calls, and power line down on Northern Boulevard; minor traffic accidents.
Sep 20, 2002 Mass casualty/fixed site hazardous materials incident. Gas leak in heating system at new Mid-High School (now Rio Rancho Middle School) forced evacuation of 900; four students and one teacher transported to local hospitals for nausea/breathing problems.
Feb 2, 2003 Wind Storm/Dust Storm. High winds caused numerous problems: downed power lines caused outages in two areas; traffic signal fell over onto a car; debris blown through roof of private residences. Blowing dust reduced visibility to near zero in several areas; minor traffic accidents.
Feb 21, 2003 Fixed Site Hazardous Materials Incident. Municipal Judge among five people transported to hospital when "noxious fumes" filled the courtroom. Entire building evacuated. No serious injuries, substance never identified.
Feb 26, 2003 Multi-Casualty Incident. A four-car vehicle accident during morning rush hour, Hwy 528 at Riverside Drive; six injured, none serious.
July 2003 Heat Wave. Hottest month ever recorded. Hot days (14 highs of 100° or more) and no cooling at night. All-time high low of 78°; 21 days do not go below 70°. Average temperature of 84.6° for the entire month shatters 1980 record of 82.7°.
Jan 24, 2004 Fixed Site Hazardous Material Incident. Medical treatment needed for all six members of a family on Sundt Road; all suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Apr 2-3, 2004 Flash Flood. Official Albuquerque rainfall totals tied the all-time single day record (1.92” on April 2) and set a new 24-hour record (2.26” noon Apr 2 - noon Apr 3). Rio Rancho had minor damages in units 10,11,13 and 17; one house flooded on Silent Spring Road but no injuries or major infrastructure damage. Repairs estimated to cost $25,000.
July 23, 2004 Power Outage. Four of six grids in City lost power at 6:25 p.m. Only west and northwest area had power. Full restoration at 9:10 p.m. Traffic tie-ups, other minor problems.
July 27, 2004 Tornado. Two funnel clouds reported in Rio Rancho during thunderstorms; neither touched the ground. Marble sized hail, strong winds, brief downpour in midafternoon. No major problems.
Mar 1, 2005 NWS advises precipitation January-February 2005 totals 3.16" in metro area, breaking a record set in 1863. Statewide average precipitation Dec 1-Feb 28 breaks all-time record in 1896.
Mar 14-15, 2005 Major winter storm paralyzes state only days after we basked in 70 degree temperatures. I-25 closed to north and I-40 to east at Albuquerque. Rio Rancho received 6-9" of snow, highest amounts north and east; Sandia Crest recorded 24". Numerous minor incidents. Largest storm to hit City since 1988.
July 1, 2005 City Department of Development Services estimates population of Rio Rancho has reached 70,000.
Mar 1, 2006 Drought. NWS advises precipitation Nov 1, 2005 through Feb 28, 2006 totals only 0.14” in metro area. Driest such period in history, breaking record low of 0.30” set in 1903-1904. Governor declares statewide drought emergency Mar 3.
Mar 10-11, 2006 Windstorm/Dust Storm. High winds 25-35 MPH both days, gusts to 55 MPH, caused tree damage, numerous alarm calls; minor traffic accidents due to blowing dust and reduced visibility.
May 9, 2006 Windstorm. Sudden winds 40-50 MPH, gusts to 62 MPH, struck 6-8 pm. Extensive damage to fences, roofs, carports, sheds; several large trees blown down, some onto vehicles or structures.
June 30, 2006 Power Outage. Power lost to most of City 9:20 - 11:00 am; 9-1-1 phone system down for 30 minutes, Police Headquarters and Municipal Court phones down until July 3.
Jun-Jul 2006 Flash Floods. A series of rainstorms June 27 - July 8 and again later in July caused extensive damage in Rio Rancho, Sandoval County and elsewhere in New Mexico. Primary areas impacted in Rio Rancho were Unit 17 and Rio Oso area. Initial damages of $75 - 100K escalated to $700 - 750K. Local declaration of disaster July 10, state declaration of disaster July 24.
Aug 1, 2006 NWS advises official Albuquerque rainfall total for Jul 2006 of 3.55” sets new record.
Jul-Aug 2006 Flash Floods. Additional storms July 24-31 increase cumulative damage estimates to more than $1 million. Local declaration of disaster for these storms Aug 16. More storms August 1-6; the August 5-6 downpour considered a 500-year storm event. Damages throughout City; damage totals nearing $2 million. Local declaration of disaster for these storms August 17. State declaration followed; federal disaster declaration September 8, 2006.
Dec 28-30, 2006 Winter Storm. Record storm buries Rio Rancho under 14" of snow, more to the north; most of state north of I-40 recorded 1-3 feet of snow. Power outages from downed lines, minor accidents, tree damage and one building collapse. Cold temperatures kept snow on ground through January 12. Local and state declarations of disaster.
Dec 31, 2006 Power Outage. PNM equipment failures left 28,000 customers in Rio Rancho without power for 2-3 hours; outage damaged City telephone switch. Phones down until Jan. 3
Jan 8, 2007 Fixed Site Hazardous Material Incident. Construction crew working Unser Blvd. expansion damaged 600 PSI 16" PNM natural gas transmission line; 32 families evacuated overnight. Repairs took 28 hours, no injuries.
May 2, 2007 Multi-casualty incident. Three vehicle accident Ridgecrest and 528; 3 adults, 4 teens, 2 infants. Six minor injuries and one transported.
June 9, 2007 Tornado. Two funnel clouds touched down north of Rio Rancho during a thunderstorm. Brief heavy rains, hail in City. No damage reported.
August 23, 2007 Thunderstorm/Lightning/Power Outage. Late afternoon storm drops 0.5" - 1.7" rain throughout City. Lightning strike/fire at Sandia Springs Senior Living Community forces 113 residents to evacuate. Power lost to 2,900 homes and businesses for 3 hours. No injuries or major damage.
Sep 10-11, 2007 Bomb Threats. A series of bomb threats over 3 days led to 600 students staying home from Rio Rancho High School Sep. 11, 2007. Two students subsequently arrested.
Oct 9, 2007 Multi-Casualty Incident. High ground winds which started after launch wreaked havoc during Balloon Fiesta: 4 balloon crashes in Rio Rancho within 45 minutes resulted in 9 injuries requiring transport
Nov 3, 2007 Multi-Casualty Incident. Two vehicle accident at Unser and Main; six people involved of whom 5 were injured and transported
Nov 5, 2007 Commercial Fire. A fire at Insight Lighting in the Industrial Park caused an estimated $500,000 damage; costliest fire ever in the City. Six people treated on-scene for smoke inhalation.
Dec 21, 2007 Commercial Fire. An arson fire at Jerry's Tires on Southern Blvd. at 22nd caused an estimated $1 million damage; costliest fire ever in the City. Two firefighters injured fighting the blaze.
May 28, 2008 Multi-Casualty Incident. Four vehicle crash on Highway 528 at Eastlake Drive; of six people involved, five people transported to hospital (minor injuries).
Oct 11, 2008 Flash Flood. Brief heavy rains hit City-wide; up to 2" of small hail in some areas. Most damage in Unit 17. Recovery costs estimated at $25,000.
Nov 1, 2008 Final project from our 2006 federal flood disaster completed. Final recovery costs totaled $3.23 million of which some $2.67 million was paid by FEMA or the state.
June 20, 2009 Multi-Casualty Incident. Two vehicle accident Hwy 528 at Hwy 550. Nine persons involved: four transported to local hospitals, 5 evaluated on-scene and released.
Jul 4, 2009 Thunderstorm/Lightning. Brief thunderstorm dampened holiday activities. Lightning struck seven at Loma Colorado Park. All transported to local hospitals: one died, one critical, five minor injuries.
Dec 22, 2009 Giant Transformers. PNM moved a new transformer through Bernalillo into Rio Rancho in pre-dawn hours. The 250 ton transformer was hauled on a massive trailer with 174 wheels on 24 axles.

NOTE: Items in bold are more serious incidents based on number and severity of injuries or dollar value of property damage.