Gregory Kaiser sat up on the edge of his bed around 2:30 a.m., surprised to hear the sound of rushing water outside his house on Plata Circle. His first thought was that rain was falling — hard and fast.
Then he opened the door to see a three-foot high flood of water cascading down the street and toward Alamo Drive. The water swept into his yard, carrying his garbage and recycling bins into some nearby trees and leaving it looking like a swamp.
He woke his wife Katy and said, “It’s a flood.”
Kaiser and other residents in the Casa Solana neighborhood said city staffers showed up quickly Sunday morning to deal with the problem. Residents said those city workers told them the torrent was the result of a water pipe break somewhere near the Frank Ortiz Dog Park and La Loma Vista.
City spokeswoman Lilia Chacon said a “significant” water main break was the source of the problem.
“City crews were quickly on scene to repair the break and start the cleaning up,” she said Sunday night. “Our streets teams are on deck to have sweepers out first thing tomorrow [Monday] morning to polish up.”
She said city crews will also have to make some asphalt repairs.
From La Loma Vista, a deep, wide rut could be seen leading down the hill to the neighborhood below. Kaiser said the water created that rut and carried dirt, mud and other debris with it. He traced the path in the dark with the help of a flashlight and some rain gear.
It is unclear what time the pipe broke and the flooding began. Lt. David Webb of the Santa Fe Police Department said at least one person called the dispatch center around 2 a.m. to report flooding.
Nick Wolff, who lives next door to the Kaisers, said he awoke around 6:30 a.m. to find “almost frozen-like water with mud in it” outside his home. A piece of the shattered pipe ended up his his yard.
“My first thought was that it came from the pool,” he said.
Though the front yards of Alamo Drive houses did not seem to be affected by the flood, much of Alamo Drive looked like a dirt road with mud holes in it. Vehicles that had been parked on that street overnight were surrounded and splattered by mud.
Alamo Drive resident Faith Garfield was busy shoveling the caked mud off of her driveway Sunday afternoon. “I thought I wouldn’t have to do this until winter,” she said, adding that when she looked down the street around 8 a.m. “there was mud as far as I could see.”
City Councilor Signe Lindell said she received some emails and a phone call from Casa Solana residents Sunday asking her about the flood, as well as some emails from interim City Manager Jarel LaPan Hill updating her about the pipe break.
“I don’t know why this happened but I understand the reason is a water line break,” Lindell said. “I’m glad our people were on it fast and I believe they will be on it again tomorrow [Monday].”
As she surveyed the damage to her property, Katy Kaiser said she felt “bummed.”
“It’s going to be a lot of work,” she said. “But I’m grateful nobody was hurt.”