El Paso Recovering From Record Week of Rain, Floods

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With only a slight chance of showers in the forecast, recovery and cleanup efforts were under way Sunday as this desert city slowly dried out from more than a week of flooding storms.

More than 15 inches of rain — nearly twice the annual average — has fallen in El Paso since July 27, City Manager Joyce Wilson said.

The deluge sent mud and rocks cascading into some parts of the city, destroying as many as 300 homes and causing an estimated $100 million in damage, Wilson said.

So far, about half of the damage has been reported on the west side of the city and county, where quickly rising water and rock slides flooded homes and all but washed out some roads last week, Mayor John Cook said.

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One flood-related death was reported, when a contractor clearing a flooded road was hit by a tractor-trailer, authorities said.

Cook said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assured him an earthen dam that had threatened to burst in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and flood downtown El Paso last week would hold.

Engineers have determined that none of the city's drainage systems, dams or reservoirs failed, Wilson said.

Three emergency shelters remained open Sunday but officials anticipated closing two by Monday.

State officials have asked President Bush to declare El Paso a disaster area, a necessary step for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin providing aid.

Despite partly sunny skies over El Paso on Sunday, Cook cautioned the flood risk would continue until at least Thursday, when forecasters expect the chance of rain to finally end.

Meanwhile, U.S. Border Patrol swift water rescue teams and four boats remained in the area and sand bags will continue to be available as a precaution.