Please join us in welcoming Celia Ruiz and Michael Palomino back to Carlsbad. They are here to participate in our dedication of the Alejandro Ruiz Senior Center off Kircher Street. The ceremony is at 10 a.m. Friday (Aug. 26) and we hope you’ll join us.
Ms. Ruiz was our keynote speaker in 2017 when we inducted her father, Alejandro Ruiz, into the Carlsbad Hall of Fame. She has an incredible story to tell, so we hope you’ll come join us to listen to her.
Her father was a recipient of a U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor, which he received directly from President Truman. Alejandro Ruiz received the medal for his incredible heroic actions in Okinawa on April 28, 1945. He continued to serve in the military through the Korean War. We’re honored to name our senior center after him as a way of recognizing his personal contributions as well as the contributions of all of our veterans. Thank you to Mayor Pro Tem and City Councilor Eddie Rodriguez for proposing naming this center after this American hero.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has been featured heavily in the state and national media due last Saturday’s storm. Park officials ordered an evacuation when a flash flood hit Walnut Canyon Desert Drive, the only way in and out of the visitor’s center. Many guests and employees had to shelter in place for several hours. Guests were ultimately able to leave the park, with assistance from first responders, at around midnight.
Some media outlets are criticizing the Caverns for not responding earlier in the day, when a Flash Flood Warning was issued at around 10 a.m. However, it is very important to note that Flash Flood Warnings are often very generic – in this case, to the 47,000-acre Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Flash Flood warnings are issued across our area a number of times throughout the summer monsoon season. Park officials were already implementing their evacuation plan when a flash flood warning specific to Walnut Canyon was announced.
Those of us familiar with the area know that, due to the terrain, flash floods may occur at a specific location with very little notice. We had a similar situation in Carlsbad last year – our first responders only had minutes to order an evacuation in a neighborhood. The weather in the Guadalupe Mountains to the west is as or more important as the weather here.
Based on all of the information we have, Carlsbad Caverns, as well as assisting agencies from Eddy County and New Mexico State Police, did an excellent job implementing their evacuation plan on Saturday.
There’s no doubt that they are evaluating the situation and looking for ways to improve, but we’re very glad that the rescue procedure brought everyone home safely.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway