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City Disaster History (In the 1990's)
Feb 27, 1990 Public health emergency. Employee of La Petite Academy Preschool diagnosed with tuberculosis. Tests conducted on 176 adults and children; two more positives.
July 14, 1990 Flash flood. More than 2" rain caused extensive damage in Vista Hills, to Highway 528, and in Corrales Heights. Fifteen homes in Corrales flooded -- led to Corrales suing Rio Rancho for damage caused by our run-off. Public Infrastructure expended 314 hours of overtime on clean-up; total clean-up costs estimated to exceed $200,000. State disaster declaration received. (Led to City joining National Flood Insurance Program effective December 1, 1990.)
Aug 22, 1990 Water main break. Rupture at Lema Road SE and Western Hills Drive destroyed the roadway. 125 homes without water for several hours.
Dec 18, 1990 Power outage/sewage spill. Power out to most of the City. A back-up generator at the utility failed; 30,000 gallons of sewage spilled into Los Montoyas Arroyo.
Dec 21, 1990 Winter storm. The "Arctic Express" blanketed the state with snow. Two more storms hit later in the week. Temperatures below zero with highs only in the 20s through December 31. Hundreds of calls regarding frozen pipes.
Spring 1991 Census 1990 figures released; Rio Rancho population is reported as 32,505.
Apr 21, 1991 Water main break. An 18" main on Northern Boulevard west of Stapleton Elementary School ruptured. Roadway washed out by estimated 1.7 million gallons of water lost before shut off. School closed.
Jul 17, 1991 Flash flood. A 5' wall of water washed out Northern Boulevard at 11th Avenue. Minor damage to several homes in Unit 7. Unique event: no rain fell in the City; all rainfall was north and west.
Jul 23, 1991 Flash flood/Wind storm. Heavy rains damaged Highway 528. A washout 5' deep and 50' long along the roadway allowed a sewage pipe to separate; spill was 25,000 gallons of treated effluent. Separately, at the Gospel Light Baptist Church, strong winds which accompanied the storm collapsed a tent. Of 50 people under the tent, 2 were injured severely enough to require transport.
Aug 1, 1991 Flash flood. Some damage to Western Hills Drive and to Golf Course Road. Many streets flooded; several minor vehicle accidents.
Oct 12, 1991 Multi-casualty incident. Three car accident at Southern Boulevard and Western Hills Drive; 5 injured.
Jan 12, 1992 Major snowstorm. Schools closed; traffic problems.
Jan 22, 1992 Triple Homicide. Man killed his estranged wife and daughter, then himself. Deadliest crime in City history.
Mar 12, 1992 Wildfire. A fire in the bosque near River's Edge I burned one acre.
Mar 16, 1993 Wildfire. Some 55 firefighters from 7 agencies battled a blaze in the bosque; 8 acres burned. First official activation of City EOC to support field operations.
Mar-Apr, 1993 Wind storms/Dust storms. Frequent problems throughout the area. Numerous days with high winds and blowing dust. Albuquerque Airport recorded a peak gust of 80 MPH in March, Sandia Peak a gust of 106 MPH.
Apr 5, 1993 Drug bust. Largest bust in City history netted marijuana valued at $275,000; several arrests.
Jun 24, 1993 Fixed site hazardous materials incident. Numerous people at Intel Corporation experienced nausea, vomiting and burning eyes; 82 transported to local hospitals, 70 others examined by paramedics at the scene. Precautionary evacuation of 2,500 others. Determined to be caused by exhaust fumes from a large welder blown into an enclosed area. Largest known emergency medical services incident in New Mexico to date.
Sep 24, 1993 Multi-casualty incident. A rollover accident on Broadmoor near 30th; 5 injured.
Oct 27, 1993 Multi-casualty incident. An 81-year-old blinded by morning sun drove her car over children boarding a school bus; 10 injured including 2 critical.
Nov 20, 1993 Multi-casualty incident. During a welding operation at Intel Corporation, flammable fumes in a plastic pipe ignited and exploded; 13 injured.
Mar 23, 1994 Wildfire. Rio Rancho assisted Corrales; 45 acres in the bosque burned.
Apr 14, 1994 Wind storm. A gust blew over the 18-wheeler Reynolds Recycling Truck parked at Southern Plaza.
May 18, 1994 Power outage. A malfunction at a PNM substation on Northern Boulevard and 40th Street caused the transformer to go off line; 1,800 residents and businesses lost power for 5 hours. Power was transferred to a back-up grid. The next afternoon, a construction accident caused an overload of the entire electrical system; all of Rio Rancho and Corrales lost power. Intel remained off line for 3 days to allow the two cities to have power while PNM completed emergency repairs. Costliest disaster in New Mexico history until Cerro Grande Fire, May 2000.
Jun 10, 1994 Multi-casualty incident. Two vehicle accident on Highway 528; 5 injured.
Jun 21, 1994 Flash flood. Heavy rains (up to 2.25") flooded streets. Damage at Highway 528 and Sundt SE; also washed out Idalia Road and Abrazo Road. Biggest problem was sediment build-up in holding ponds.
Jun 27, 1994 Metro area hits 107°, the highest temperature ever recorded (the 104° on June 26 tied the previous record).
Jul 21, 1994 Wind storm/flash flood. Thunderstorm dumped 1.2" - 2.4" throughout the City. Streets flooded but no major damage. Strong winds uprooted trees, downed fences.
Nov 7, 1994 Public health emergency. A highly infectious intestinal virus hit Rio Rancho Elementary School. Symptoms (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and low grade fever) lasted 8-24 hours. During week of Nov 7-11, one-sixth of students out; at the peak, 120 were sick at one time.
Nov 26, 1994 Wind storm. The Twinkle Light Parade was canceled due to strong winds. Many floats damaged, one so severely it did not participate when the parade was held Dec 3.
Dec 1, 1994 Water main break. A main on Northern Boulevard ruptured. Roadway damaged by estimated 1 million gallons of water lost before shut off. Stapleton Elementary School closed. Northern closed for repairs after a semi-trailer truck fell into a hole in the roadway.
Jan 4, 1995 Major snowstorm. A storm dropped 4"-6" in the area January 4-5. Schools closed; many minor accidents.
May 12, 1995 Wind storm. Corrales Heights bore the brunt of damage to trees, fences and road signs. Extensive minor damages.
Jun 14, 1995 Major fire. A large fireworks tent at Highway 528 and Highway 44(now Highway 550) burned in a spectacular fire. Loss estimated at $80,000.
Aug 9, 1995 Flash flood. Heavy rains forced closure of Unser at Southern Boulevard due to street flooding. No major damage reported.
Oct 23, 1995 Domestic terrorism. Sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic dispute; found assault weapons, pipe bombs, explosives and armor-piercing bullets. Resident arrested; told deputies he had intended to attack Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety and other government agencies.
May 17, 1996 Drought. Mayor declared emergency due to dry conditions. Fireworks banned. County banned fireworks and open burning the same week. City Council confirmed ban May 22 and extended for 90 days. State and federal emergency declarations of drought followed. Rain received June 13 was first precipitation of significance since snowstorm in January. First federal declaration which included Rio Rancho.
May 30, 1996 Wildfire. A brush fire near Unser Boulevard and 5th Street burned 3 acres. Graded streets provided the firebreak needed to control the blaze.
Jun 28, 1996 Flash flood. A storm dropped 1"-2" of rain throughout the area. Streets flooded; no damage reported.
Aug 27, 1996 Fixed site hazardous material spill. Ten gallons of ethyl lactate spilled at Intel Corporation; 500 evacuated. No injuries; ethyl lactate an eye irritant only.
January 1997 Winter storm. A snow storm dumped 6" snow Jan 6; cold temperatures persisted through January 18. Subsequent snow storms January 14 and January 15. Minor traffic problems, school closures and delays. Elderly woman slipped and fell on ice in her driveway January 13; she could not get up and died of exposure before anyone found her.
July 8, 1997 Wind storm/Wildfire. Lightning sparked blaze burned 40 acres of mesa southwest of the City. Smoke and dust blanketed the area.
July 27, 1997 Flash flood. Nearly 2" rain flooded streets; Southern Boulevard at Lisbon Avenue and at Rainbow Boulevard closed due to high water. Some damage to a culvert on 17th Avenue in North Hills. Two vehicles stuck on Loma Colorado at the Los Montoyas Arroyo crossing. Minor power outage; minor traffic accidents. Additional rain July 28 and July 29.
Aug 2, 1997 Power outage. In the midst of a violent lightning storm with strong wind and rain, power was lost. The Rio Rancho Communications Center lost all phone and radio communications capability, including the 911 system and computer aided dispatch. Reset and repeated system failure finally cleared after 1½ hours.
Aug 5, 1997 Flash flood. Brief but violent storm caused roads to flood; 0.6" rain in minutes damaged block walls in Vista Hills. Minor power outage.
July 1998 Population tops 50,000
Aug 22, 1998 Water main breaks. A series of water main breaks August 22-26 caused repeated problems on Pyrite Drive in Vista Hills.
Sep 5, 1998 Sewage spill. About 36,000 gallons of sewage flowed into an arroyo near the Enchanted Hills subdivision.
Oct 20, 1998 Multi-casualty incident. A school bus overturned on mud-slick Idalia Road; of 24 on board, 10 treated for minor injuries. Driver cited.
Apr 14, 1999 Domestic terrorism. Intel Corporation received mail purported to be contaminated with anthrax spores. FBI assumed lead in the investigation. First such case in New Mexico.
Jul-Aug, 1999 Flash floods. A series of rain storms July 29 - August 6 caused extensive damage in Rio Rancho, Sandoval County and elsewhere in New Mexico. Storms July 29 and August 4 dumped more than 2" of rain each. Primary areas impacted in Rio Rancho were Unit 17, Enchanted Hills, and Waste Water Treatment Plant #2. Preliminary damage estimated at $470,000. Local declaration of disaster August 6, state and federal declarations followed in September.
Nov 7, 1999 Water main break. A 20" water main on St. Andrews Drive ruptured early in the morning; more than 3,000 customers lost service. Repairs estimated to take 3 days. New Mexico National Guard supplied potable water at three sites in the outage area. Emergency repairs completed Nov 8.
Dec 31, 1999 Y2K. The City activated its EOC in anticipation of possible problems related to year 2000 rollover. This culminated 18 months intensive examination of City systems and vulnerabilities. No problems reported.

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