updated 7/31/2008 1:15:40 PM ET 2008-07-31T17:15:40

About 70 residents and vacationers were rescued Wednesday after being stranded since weekend flooding washed out a bridge in an upper canyon of a New Mexico resort community.

A foot bridge was built Wednesday to reach the last of those stranded, said Sherry Kamali, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

"We're moving into the recovery phase now," Kamali said.

The flooding began Sunday after the remnants of Hurricane Dolly moved through. The overflowing Rio Ruidoso damaged about 200 homes and washed out 13 bridges. Close to 900 residents and campers have been rescued, Kamali said.

Road crews were clearing debris while state environment officials worked to ensure drinking water was safe.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to deliver portable bridges, but town spokeswoman Darlene Hart said that won't happen anytime soon.

FEMA is expected Thursday to begin assessing damage.

Officials have said many residents and vacationers will not be able to return to their homes or cabins quickly.

Hart said all the main roads are open and businesses are operating.

"The roads and bridges that got washed out are in the interior," she said.

The National Weather Service predicts more showers for the area, but Hart said rescue and repair efforts likely won't be affected.

The horse race track in nearby Ruidoso Downs will resume racing next weekend. Fresh soil was hauled in to rebuild the track.

Gov. Bill Richardson has declared Lincoln County a disaster area, freeing emergency state funding.

On Wednesday, he announced $10,000 in emergency state advertising money will be made available to help Ruidoso with its tourism industry.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments