A charred road sign still stands recently in front of El Porvenir Campground near Hermits Peak. The bridge was one of many damaged or destroyed by the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon wildfire or subsequent flooding. (Photo by Patrick Lohmann / Source NM)
Nearly half the $100 million pot of state loans to help with Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire disaster relief has finally arrived for public officials in Mora and San Miguel Counties.
Not even a third of the eligible entities listed on the application have applied for help in the three months since the application has been open.
The state announced Wednesday the approval of $46.9 million in loans for the most affected counties in northern New Mexico so local officials can finally start repairing public infrastructure.
Mora County will get $29.8 million, and San Miguel County will get just over $17 million, according to Henry Valdez, spokesperson for the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration.
He said the finance agency has already distributed the funds to the counties so project work can begin.
“Getting this money out the door is a true testament to the power of collaboration between my administration, the legislature, and local governments,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said.
Following last year’s massive disaster caused by the U.S. Forest Service, these northern New Mexico counties have been littered with broken culverts or impassable roads, waiting on federal funds to come down that are supposed to pay for repairs.
To get dollars to communities quicker, Lujan Grisham in February made $100 million in zero-interest loans available for political subdivisions, like counties or universities.
Only Mora and San Miguel Counties have applied for the loans, according to the governor’s office.
Those counties will have to pay back the state within a month of whenever the federal assistance dollars come through.
There are at least five other political subdivisions that could still apply for funds: the City of Las Vegas, New Mexico Highlands University, La Acequia del Cañoncito, La Acequia del Cañoncito del la Cueva and the Agua Pura Mutual Domestic Consumers Water Association.
The application closes March 31, 2024.
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