Santa Fe New Mexican
Fund for the Flood helped
About one year ago, on July 23, 2018, Santa Fe was hit by what was then described as a “once in 1,000 year” flood. Over 3.5 inches of rain fell in a single day and night — more than a fourth of the city’s annual average rainfall. While we desert dwellers normally welcome precipitation of any sort, this historic event wreaked havoc on our community and many of its residents. I specifically recall one video posted on Facebook showing floodwaters rushing through Arroyo Chamiso — my own neighborhood — with crested waves more akin to a turbulent ocean than the usually dry arroyo. However, the real-life experiences of others were roofs giving way, walls crumbling and inches of water in their homes.
In response, the Santa Fe Community Foundation established the Fund for the Flood and asked for donations to help our neighbors who experienced losses as a result of the flood (“Community group launches fund to benefit flood victims,” Sept. 9). We wanted to take this opportunity to report back to the community on how these funds were utilized in assisting fellow Santa Feans and what lies ahead in preparing to respond to such events going forward.
First, we made certain that the contributions into the Fund for the Flood were used only to make repairs not covered by insurance policies or other disaster assistance resources. To make accessing the resources as uncomplicated as possible, we created a simple application for people to complete and submit. We asked applicants about their income so that we could ensure support went to those most in need. We made all payments for repairs directly to licensed contractors or home-improvement stores.
We are pleased to share that six of our neighbors received assistance for repairs to their homes through the fund. Thanks to generous gifts both large and small, a total of $13,002 was raised. No applicant was turned down for support due to a lack of funds. After processing all applications and doing some additional follow-ups, a total of $8,675.41 was paid out from the fund.
One of our affected neighbors who requested support lives solely on Social Security benefits as her source of income, less than $900 a month. The Fund for the Flood was able to fully pay for the repairs of skylights that failed at her house, as well as removal and repair of damaged and moldy drywall.
Another fellow Santa Fean who is retired, disabled and living on an annual salary of $16,000, had significant mold develop in her home after it flooded. Through the Fund for the Flood, we were able to pay some of the costs for mold remediation in her house. She let me know when I called this week to check in on her that another great asset in our city, Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity, had returned her home “to a beautiful place again.” (Thanks, Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity!)
Several applicants received support to replace flooring that had been ruined due to floodwaters. Several others had exterior walls collapse, including one that bordered the Santa Fe River, and while it mostly prevented damage to the home as intended, the wall itself gave way to the torrent.
Now, with a remaining balance of a little more than $4,000, we are creating the Emergency Disaster Relief Fund at the Santa Fe Community Foundation. By establishing this fund to respond to future challenges facing our communities, we will be ready for when the next situation arises.
We are a tremendously generous community, and we want to thank the nearly 50 donors who supported the Fund for the Flood with financial gifts. We also thank the Santa Fe New Mexican for the coverage following the flood and instructions for readers to give. Finally, our gratitude to the many nonprofits and faith-based partners who also responded. Together, all of us helped our neighbors weather the storm.
Gifts to provide future support through the Emergency Disaster Relief Fund can be made by going to santafecf.org/give-now.
William “Bill” Smith is president and CEO of the Santa Fe Community Foundation.