Authorities: Man's body found in NM flood debris

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A hiker found the body of a man amid debris from flooding that brought widespread damage to the state this month, authorities said Sunday as areas of the storm-weary region faced more thunderstorms.

Catron Country Sheriff's Office said the man was found Saturday in a sand bar off the San Francisco River near Alma in the Gila National Forest. It appears he died in the flood.

Under Sheriff Ian Fletcher said it was not known if the body was that of 83-year-old Howard Bassett, the Arizona man reported missing last week after he was evacuated from the Silver Creek Inn in Mogollon on Sept. 14 and did not return to collect his belongings.

The sand bar where the body was found had debris from the flood. The body has been sent to the Officer of Medical Investigators for identification.

State Police said aerial searchers found Bassett's truck Wednesday night, and it was wrapped in mud and flood debris in Silver Creek off State Road 159.

Bassett was staying at the Silver Creek Inn when heavy rains hit.

The National Weather Service said early Sunday northwestern and north central New Mexico could see "strong to severe" thunderstorms. By evening, a flood advisory was in effect for the Albuquerque, where thunderstorms also were reported.

The storm comes as a strong low pressure system quickly advances toward the Four Corners region, including parts of Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

Earlier this month, storms in New Mexico overflowed rivers, sparking massive flooding, forced evacuations and damaged roads.

Flood damage from storms earlier this month struck 25 of New Mexico's 33 counties, official said.

The Albuquerque Journal reported ( http://bit.ly/15hCMpy) no statewide figures were available at the end of last week, but some counties had preliminary tallies linked to flood damage and severe weather.

In San Miguel County, for example, the figure is between $6 million and $7 million. That doesn't include the city of Las Vegas, which had infrastructure and water treatment facilities damaged.

Meanwhile, in Eddy County, Emergency Manager Joel Arnwine said damage to road and other public facilities there are estimated at up to $1.8 million.

For Cibola County, the figure was about $1 million, and in Los Alamos, officials estimated $5 million in damage with millions more at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimated $9 million to the state's roads and bridges.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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